Campus Location

Dallas Campus (Online)

Date of Award

4-2021

Document Type

Dissertation

Department

Educational Leadership

Degree Name

Doctor of Education

Committee Chair or Primary Advisor

Jackie Halstead

Second Committee Member or Secondary Advisor

Deardra Hayes-Whigham

Third Committee Member or Committee Reader

Elena Polush

Abstract

Having a secure and permanent home is an important foundational, psychological need because it influences the fulfillment of other aspects of a person’s life. Given the importance of shelter in the well-being of any individual, the problem of homelessness among veterans underscores the significance of ensuring that veterans have access to this basic human need. This phenomenological, qualitative study explored the lived experiences of African American homeless veterans regarding to ethnicity, housing, mental health, and being unhoused with the intent of understanding or identifying meaning in regards to these experiences. The overrepresentation of African American homeless veterans leads to the purpose of the study to explore the barriers of homelessness, specifically mental health, and interpreting those lived experiences in their ability to obtain housing. The theoretical framework of this research utilized critical race theory and Maslow’s hierarchy of needs in order to examine African American homeless veterans’ experiences through these two theories. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, interviews were conducted through Zoom, transcribed verbatim, and imported to NVivo 12 and evaluated by a 6-step thematic process. In-depth interviews and a thematic analysis approach resulted in the development of five key themes and five subthemes. The major themes were the role of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in current living conditions, perceived lack of governmental support, role of family and friends, shame vs. positive outlook, and strategies to address homelessness. All eight participants recognized PTSD as a distinctive feature that has played a role in the well-being of African American homeless veterans in Dallas, Texas. Notably, participants did not mention race as having an impact on their well-being or homelessness situation; however, this does not necessarily mean that race does not play a role in their current situation. Participating advocates suggested three strategies to address homelessness, all of which are part of Maslow’s first category: shelter, food provision, and medical attention. The results of this study could encourage African American veterans faced with homelessness to pursue available resources to help address their disparities.

Creative Commons License

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

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