Date of Award

Spring 5-22-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

PHD - Doctor of Philosophy


Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Sue Motulsky

Second Advisor

Susan Gere

Third Advisor

Christine Laguna


Homelessness, or the lack of consistent and safe shelter, is a byproduct of nearly every social justice issue in the United States, including racism, sexism, income disparities, and inadequate education and healthcare. Chronic homelessness is a term used to describe an individual who has spent at least one year or repeated events totaling one year in homelessness, coupled with a disabling condition such as mental illness, physical disability, or substance use. Chronically homeless men deserve study because they make up the largest subgroup of the homeless population, are disproportionately men of color, and experience significant levels of traumatic stress. While this subpopulation of homeless individuals makes up 20% of the general homeless population and utilizes most of the homeless services resources, little is known about their experiences from their perspective. This study sought to understand the lived experiences of chronically homeless men pursuing affordable housing, particularly what enables them to persist. The findings were derived from nine semi-structured interviews with photo-elicitation with chronically homeless men who were actively pursuing housing or had recently obtained it. All participants named challenges to obtaining housing that resulted in re-traumatizing experiences for them. They also shared strategies they utilize to cope with and overcome these challenges, including emotional, relational, and task-oriented strategies. Black participants discussed their experiences of racism during their housing search. The findings support the need for culturally responsive and trauma-informed care within homeless services. Utilizing this approach, organizations, case managers, and counselors can support clients’ resiliency and minimize re-traumatization.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Number of Pages