Home Is Where You Draw Strength and Rest: The Meanings of Home for Houseless Young People

This qualitative study examined the meanings ascribed to the construct “home” by 208 youths defined by mainstream society as “homeless”. Youth narratives on the topic of home ranged across a continuum with home as state at one end (i.e., home is a state of mind, comprised of one’s friends) and home as place at the other (i.e., home as a physical dwelling). Youths employing the former meanings had typically been on the street for longer periods and identified with counterculture-type ideologies. For youths who defined home as place, home was constructed in direct opposition to street experiences. For both of these groups, control emerged as a central theme in their narratives. The implications of these findings for engaging youth and goal setting regarding exiting the streets are described.

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Youth & Society
Toronto, ON, Canada, New York City, NY, USA