Citation
Formation and functionality

Material Information

Title:
Formation and functionality young adults who are homeless and their street families
Creator:
Gorak, Natalie ( author )
Place of Publication:
Denver, CO
Publisher:
University of Colorado Denver
Publication Date:
Language:
English
Physical Description:
1 electronic file (62 pages) : ;

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Social exchange ( lcsh )
Homeless youth -- Social conditions -- United States ( lcsh )
Exchange theory (Sociology) ( lcsh )
Genre:
bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )

Notes

Review:
This research utilized in-depth qualitative interviews with young adults and staff from an urban homeless shelter in order to gain insight into the purpose of street families. Five young adults who reside at a shelter and four staff members were interviewed. Questions were focused on how the young adults defined the concept of family, with a special focus on the role that staff may play in a young adult’s family. Analysis indicates that family is a fluid and dynamic concept for these young adults. Further, they differentiated between staff members in regard to their connectedness and type of relationship. Finally, their interaction with social exchange theory is described as important, and grounded in emotional supports, as opposed to tangible supports.
Thesis:
Thesis (M.A.)--University of Colorado Denver, 2017.
Bibliography:
Includes bibliographical references.
System Details:
System requirements: Adobe Reader.
Statement of Responsibility:
by Natalie Gorak.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Colorado Denver
Holding Location:
Auraria Library
Rights Management:
Copyright Natalie Gorak. Permission granted to University of Colorado Denver to digitize and display this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.
Resource Identifier:
on10859 ( NOTIS )
1085902083 ( OCLC )
on1085902083

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FORMATION AND FUNCTIONALITY: YOUNG ADULTS WHO ARE HOMELESS AND THEIR STREET FAMILIES by NATALIE GORAK B.A., University of Wisconsin Madison, 2011 A thesis submitted to the Faculty of the Graduate School of the University of Colorado in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts Education and Human Development Program 2018

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This thesis for Master of Arts degree by Natalie Gorak has been approved for the Education and Human Development Program by Ruben P. Viramontez Anguiano, Chair Anayeli Lopez Shelly Mahon Date: May 12, 2018 ii

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Gorak, Natalie (M.A. Education and Human Development Program) Formation and Functionality: Young Adults Who Are Homeless and Their Street Families Thesis directed by Ruben P. Viramontez Anguiano ABSTRACT This research utilized in-depth qualitative interviews with young adults and staff from an urban homeless shelter in order to gain insight into the purpose of street families. Five young adults who reside at a shelter and four staff members were interviewed. Questions were focused on how the young adults defined the concept of family, with a special focus on the role that staff may play in a young adult's family. Analysis indicates that family is a fluid and dynamic concept for these young adults. Further, they differentiated between staff members in regard to their connectedness and type of relationship. Finally, their interaction with social exchange theory is described as important, and grounded in emotional supports, as opposed to tangible supports. iii

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The form and content of this abstract are approved. I recommend its publication. Approved: Ruben P. Viramontez Anguiano iv

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I would like to thank my committee who gave me essential feedback and guidance as I undertook this challenge. I would especially like to thank Dr. Ruben for helping me persevere and navigate through the murky waters of the research world. I would also like to thank my husband, Jackson, for reading my thesis in various stages of completeness, for being my practice audience, and (maybe most importantly!) for helping me create a table of contents in Pages, and for being an all around master of formatting. I would also like to thank all of my family and friends to whom I voiced numerous frustrations and worries over the past two years, thank you for listening patiently and always encouraging me! Many of you took the time this past semester to re-read this thesis and gave me clear feedback that helped turn my research into an understandable synthesis, at last! v

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CHAPTER I. INTRODUCTION 1 .................................................................................................................... Overview 1 ................................................................................................................................ Purpose of the Study 2 .............................................................................................................. Guiding Research Questions 3 .................................................................................................. II. LITERATURE REVIEW 4 ........................................................................................................ Difficulties in Research of the Homeless 4 ............................................................................... Demographics of Young Adults who are Homeless 6 ............................................................... Reasons Contributing to Homelessness 7 ................................................................................. Research on Street Families 8 ................................................................................................... Social Exchange Theory 11 ........................................................................................................ III. PUBLISHABLE MANUSCRIPT 14 .......................................................................................... Introduction 15 ............................................................................................................................ Literature Review 16 ................................................................................................................... Difficulties in Research of the Homeless 16 ......................................................................... Reasons Contributing to Homelessness 17 ........................................................................... Research on Street Families 18 ............................................................................................. Social Exchange Theory 19 .................................................................................................. Demographics 21 .................................................................................................................. Methods 22 .................................................................................................................................. Guiding Research Questions 22 ............................................................................................ Sample 22 .............................................................................................................................. vi

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Research Design 23 .............................................................................................................. Procedure 23 ......................................................................................................................... Interview Protocol 24 ............................................................................................................ Data Analysis 24 ................................................................................................................... Findings 24 ................................................................................................................................. Structure of Family 26 .......................................................................................................... Creation of Family and Roles 27 .......................................................................................... Service Provider Role 30 ...................................................................................................... The Importance of Reciprocal Relationships 32 .................................................................. Distinction of Sub-populations 34 ........................................................................................ Discussion 35 .............................................................................................................................. Strengths and Limitations 36 ................................................................................................ Implications for Practice and Future Research 37 ................................................................ Conclusion 38 ............................................................................................................................. IV. GLOBAL DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION 40 ................................................................... Discussion 40 .............................................................................................................................. Strengths and Limitations 41 ...................................................................................................... Implications for Practice and Future Research 42 ...................................................................... Conclusion 44 ............................................................................................................................. REFERENCES 46 ............................................................................................................................ APPENDIX 49 .................................................................................................................................. A. COMIRB Approval Form 49 ................................................................................................. vii

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B. Postcard Consent Form Young Adults 50 ............................................................................ C. Post Card Consent Form Staff 51 ........................................................................................ D. Interview Guide 52 ................................................................................................................. E. Recruitment Flyer 54 .............................................................................................................. viii

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CHAPTER I I. INTRODUCTION Overview Homelessness is a critical issue for the city of Denver, and without the network of organizations that provide assistance to this vulnerable population, the problem would be significantly more prevalent. One of these organizations, a non-profit called Urban Peak, provides essential services to over 2,000 homeless young adults each year (Urban Peak, 2016). Urban Peak functions as an overnight and day-time shelter for homeless young adults, and offers services such as basic primary and behavioral health care, education and employment programming, and transitional housing. Additionally, if there are needed services that Urban Peak cannot provide, homeless young adults are connected with outside resources. Of great concern are the barriers to success and stabilization faced by this population such as low academic achievement, poor communication skills and mental health disorders ( Center for Promise, 2014; Munoz, Reichenbach & Hansen, 2005). Another major issue that affects over half of this population is unemployment, with some studies estimating that homeless young adults have unemployment rates ranging from 66-71% (Long, Rio, Rosen, 2007; Ferguson, Xie, Glynn, 2012). Unemployment is a critical issue since this affects one's access to housing, food, and health services, all of which act as barriers to living a healthy life. To make matters more difficult, most homeless young adults will have to navigate the aforementioned barriers and challenges without support from a traditional, biological, family of origin. An organic network of support that functions within street culture, is needed for this population, as provision of services by nonprofits who function outside of street culture is 1

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severely limited. Typically, most service providers are open only on weekdays during the day, and are limited in the amount of homeless young adults they can help. Licensing laws and funding sources are also factors that can limit services provided to this population. For example, Urban Peak's overnight shelter can only serve homeless young adults aged 15-20 due to licensing laws for housing minors. As a result, homeless young adults over the age of 20 cannot be helped by Urban Peak in that respect, and while some may be lucky enough to find space at the extremely limited network of shelters, many will end up sleeping on the streets. Likewise, some medical providers can only provide mental health services to clients who have Medicaid or other health insurance, presenting another barrier to mental health care. Licensing laws, age restrictions, and insurance requirements are just a few examples of the many barriers that can prevent nonprofits from serving homeless young adults. Without addressing these barriers, young adults cannot receive the necessary support. Annually, it is estimated that well over one million young adults experience homelessness in the United States, a statistic that exemplifies the magnitude of this problem for our country (National Conference of State Legislatures, 2016) With such a large population, it is necessary to conduct more extensive research to better understand how many of these homeless young adults survive without mainstream employment, support, and resources. Purpose of the Study When homeless young adults are unable to have their needs met by available organizations, where do they go to get this support? Outside of the service provider's purview there is an extensive subculture in which these young adults function and live. This subculture includes networks of support that can be labeled as family, and can offer crucial physical, mental, 2

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and financial support to this population when service providers and organizations cannot (Smith, 2008). Therefore, this study aims to gain insight into the formation and functionality of street families for young adults who are homeless. Guiding Research Questions This study utilized in-depth qualitative interviews with young adults who are homeless and sought to answer the following research questions: 1. What does the structure of street families look like for young adults who are homeless? 2. What is the process by which these families are created? What roles and functions do these families play for the young adults? 3. How do young adults view service providers functioning within the family structure? How do service providers see themselves functioning within the family? Definitions and Terms Homeless : For the purposes of this study, all young adult participants in the research study were residents of a shelter. In the literature review section the definition of homeless is expanded to include those who live on the streets, stay in a shelter, mission, abandoned vehicle or building, or any other place not meant for habitation. Young adult : For the purposes of this study, all participants in the research study were age 18-20 years old. In the literature review section, the definition of young adult is expanded to include a larger age range, defined by each study itself. 3

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CHAPTER II II. LITERATURE REVIEW This section aims to educate readers on the limiting factors surrounding research on young adults who are homeless, and the homeless population in general. Research findings on young adults who are homeless are shared, including some of the reasons why young adults become homeless, the processes by which they form families on the street, and the functions those families serve. Difficulties in Research of the Homeless It is difficult to find, serve, and conduct research on those who are homeless because of their transient nature, the laws that restrict camping and limit access to resources, and the hidden aspects of homelessness. The transient nature of those who are homeless, makes it difficult to conduct longitudinal research. Participants can move at any time, as they are not tied down by legal obligations like a lease or mortgage. Sometimes their transience is by their own volition but other times the choice is made for them through law. Recent policy in Denver, CO is an example of how a law can make it increasingly harder for both researchers and organizations who serve those who are homeless to maintain contact with these individuals. In 2012, a municipal code formally called the "Unauthorized camping on public or private property prohibited municipal code" was enacted. More commonly called the urban camping ban, this law reads, in part, as follows: (a) It shall be unlawful for any person to camp upon any private property without the express written consent of the property owner or the owner's agent, and only in such 4

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locations where camping may be conducted in accordance with any other applicable city law. (b) It shall be unlawful for any person to camp upon any public property except in any location where camping has been expressly allowed by the officer or agency having the control, management and supervision of the public property in question. (d) For purposes of this section: (1) "Camp" means to reside or dwell temporarily in a place, with shelter. The term "shelter" includes, without limitation, any tent, tarpaulin, lean-to, sleeping bag, bedroll, blankets, or any form of cover or protection from the elements other than clothing. The term "reside or dwell" includes, without limitation, conducting such activities as eating, sleeping, or the storage of personal possessions. ( Sec. 38-86.2. Unauthorized camping on public or private property prohibited) Statutes and municipal codes such as these, create situations in which people who are experiencing homelessness are asked to move along and find new places to stay. This request breaks up camps in areas that service providers and researchers rely upon in order to connect with clients and research participants. Not only are people who are homeless being asked to constantly relocate all of their possessions, a cumbersome and inconvenient process, they are also experiencing a disconnection from outreach resources and a break in services results as well. When services are not being delivered consistently, progress towards mental stability, housing, employment, and other goals slows down. Policies such as these add to the invisible nature of people experiencing homelessness by prompting them to find more secluded places to sleep and 5

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live, thus making it more difficult for those who are homeless to connect with researchers, service providers, and mainstream society. Young adults who are homeless are even more difficult to study, as they oftentimes function in a subculture hidden to those who are not homeless themselves. Gaetz and O'Grady (2002) note that this subculture includes cultural and societal norms, and economic systems that are vastly different from those of mainstream society. The separate economic system is incredibly important to understand when looking at young adults who are homeless and how they function on the streets. Their economic subsystem can include illegal activities that can lead to arrest and charges that stay on their criminal record forever. Once a young adult has charges on their record s it can make it difficult to rejoin the mainstream economic system (Gaetz & O'Grady, 2002). For researchers to have a solid understanding of this population, they need to be able to learn about this subculture. Notably, gaining access can be a tedious and difficult process, requiring researchers to devote long periods of time to gain the trust and respect of young adults who are living on the streets. While research about those who are homeless is difficult to conduct, and the amount that exists today is limited, scholars have found some ways to study why young adults are homeless, what their street family structure looks like, the process by which they create families and the roles that those family members play in their lives. Demographics of Young Adults who are Homeless The demographics of young adults who are homeless are difficult to uncover for the reasons mentioned in the section above. However, different organizations across the United States have come up with various surveys to attempt to ascertain the numbers and demographics 6

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of the young adults they work with. One widely used survey is the Point in Time Survey (PIT) created by the US Housing and Urban Development Department. This survey gathers population information about those who are homeless in cities across the US and the data is then analyzed and reviewed by Congress (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, 2018). According to the 2017 PIT data, 62% of young adults who were homeless were male, 25% were Hispanic or Latino, 50% were White, 33% were African American and the remaining young adults identified as multiracial (10%), Native American (4%), and Asian and Pacific Islander (3%). Of note, the survey found that young adults were much more likely to be unsheltered (living in a place not designated for sleeping) than older adults (living in a shelter, safe haven, or transitional housing) (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, 2017). Reasons Contributing to Homelessness Research has shown that young adults, much like adults, do not become homeless for one singular reason. The reasons vary, and usually include multiple factors. These reasons range from abuse, lack of sufficient family support due to gender/sexual identity, death of a parent, and problems in school, to drug or alcohol use (Rotheram-Borus, Mahler, Koopman, & Langabeer, 1996; Tunaker, 2015; Greenblatt & Robertson, 1993). Additionally, a study in the late 1980s interviewed 190 youth who were staying at four transitional shelters in New York City. Over one-third of participants reported sexual abuse prior to becoming homeless, with 11.6% reporting abuse after age 13 and 25.8% reporting abuse before age 13 (Rotheram-Borus, Mahler, Koopman, & Langabeer, 1996). This finding is consistent with other researcher's findings of sexual abuse rates amongst youth who are homeless (Busen & Beech, 1997). Ferguson (2009) studied the psychosocial and behavioral adjustment for 28 young adults who were homeless at a 7

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drop-in center in the US. The research reported that the participants had experienced high rates of direct and indirect abuse prior to becoming homeless. They also found that those who had experienced abuse had higher proportions of clinical depression, internalizing and externalizing behaviors, and alcohol use. According to the researchers, this data revealed that homeless young adults experience both direct and indirect abuse and that these experiences negatively influence their psychosocial functioning and behavioral adjustment. In addition to abuse, phobias (homophobia, transphobia, etc.) amongst families of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth have been found to be a contributing factor to homelessness for young adults. Oftentimes when a family discovers a young adult is a member of the LGBT community, the discovery is stressful and creates tension amongst the family. Some young adults report they are unable to live their lives openly while living with their family and opt to leave, others report that parents specifically asked them to leave due to their sexuality and gender identity, and others still report no outward request of them to leave but relate a feeling of unwelcomeness and non-acceptance that prompts them to leave (Busen & Beech, 1997; Tunaker, 2015). These reasons are just a small survey of some of the possible reasons young adults find themselves homeless, and without stable housing, their lives change dramatically. Research on Street Families Without a stable home and support network, researchers have found that many young adults find new support networks to replace the ones they previously had (ie. parents/family, school, friends, etc.). This creation of new networks can be described by a term called fictive kin, a concept utilized by lower income populations in which support networks that resemble biological families are recreated. 8

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Creation and Roles. McCarthy, Hagan, and Martin (2002) found that many who are homeless create fictive kin families and reap various benefits from the ties. Specifically, they found that for young adults who are homeless in two Canadian cities, these fictive kin relationships increased social capital and lowered chances of violent victimization. In a more indepth qualitative study, Smith (2008) uncovered details about the creation of street families while conducting interviews with 30 homeless young adults and five service providers. The study itself explored the processes of creating and maintaining these families. The researchers posed questions that engaged deeply in the role of gender when adopting familial identities, concluding that females were more likely to engage in street relationships and oftentimes performed more "domestic" duties (ex. finding food). Females were also more likely to engage in street families that mirrored their family of origin. Interviewees were asked to define family and describe how each interviewee developed their street family. The participants noted the reasons why they create a family: to find emotional support, to combat alienation, and the provision of tangible support such as shelter and pooling of resources. The research also explored some of the conflict that can arise amongst these families, for example incidents of "sibling" rivalry. This study provides a glimpse into how young adults who are homeless create families on the street, and how complex the process can be. It also highlights how the experience of creating a family can be different for different genders, leading to a potential new subset of study. Other researchers have focused on younger subsets of young adults who are homeless (children and preadolescents) and have found similar results. Rizzini and Butler (2003) looked at children and adolescents who were homeless in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. They used in-depth interviews to gain perspective on why these participants were homeless, their transition to the 9

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streets and the connections they made while living on the streets. Some of the interviewees described their street group like a family. However, the researchers noted that their definition of family was more fluid, and that group membership could change over time. This fluidity relates back to the idea of fictive kin, a functional and temporal concept (Faubion, 2001). Benefits and Disadvantages. Stablein (2001) describes the benefits to creating street families. Specifically, Stablein discussed the idea of bonding social capital that was discovered while interviewing young adults who were homeless in the US. The research stated that young adults reported that they protected each other, helped each other find services, helped each other socialize, and provided affective (ie. socioemotional) supports. These supports can help to mitigate the challenges faced while living on the streets or in other unstable housing situations. Just as with biological families, not all relationships created on the street are positive. Bao, Whitbeck and Hoyt (2000) conducted a study that utilized interviews with 602 young adults who were homeless in four different U.S. States. Researchers found that there were some examples of peer support that lead to more deviant behaviors and victimization. However, they also found that other young adults on the street were able to provide mentoring, information and support. Their research also showed that supportive friendships were likely to decrease depressive symptoms. While their research showed some negative behaviors associated with peer support and street families, they were outweighed by positive and beneficial effects. The research on fictive kin and street families shows that there are positive and negative aspects to these relationships. However, the majority of research shows that the benefits and protections offered by street families outweigh the potential negative influences on young adults who are homeless. While the research basis in this area is small, it indicates that young adults 10

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who are homeless are creating families that oftentimes mimic the supports found in healthy, functioning, biological families. Further investigation into the actual processes by which youth are creating and maintaining street families is in dire need to better understand and interact with these families. Social Exchange Theory This research study is grounded in social exchange theory in order to explore the process by which young adults who are homeless create and maintain street families. One of the main tenets of social exchange theory is the idea that people are motivated by self-interest (Smith & Hamon, 2017). This self-interest leads individuals to engage in relationships which offer them some benefit, whether it be emotional, financial, physical, etc. Self-interest shows itself often within the community of young adults who are homeless. Many who engage in the process of creating a street family note that they receive various benefits because of the relationships (Smith, 2008; Stablein, 2001; McCarthy, Hagan & Martin, 2002; Bao, Whitbeck & Hoyt, 2000). It is not surprising that a young adult who is homeless would seek the support and benefits of being in a larger group, where there is often safety and resources in numbers. Young adults who are homeless can be especially prone to being self-interested as they are functioning independently from the support groups they once knew (ex. family) and are now venturing into a world where they are, oftentimes, the only ones looking out for themselves. This increased self-interest can lead to only creating relationships in which they see a benefit for themselves. A second tenet of social exchange theory is that social relationships are marked by interdependence and reciprocity (Smith & Hamon, 2017). In street family relationships this can 11

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play out in various ways. Young adults who are recently homeless may be seeking guidance on how to stay safe on the streets; by finding a street family they can be mentored and guided by their new family members and eventually be able to pass on that guidance to other young adults (Stablein, 2001). Although, at times this interdependence has played out in harmful ways for young adults who are homeless, increasing deviant behavior (Rizzinni, 2003). However, even in the case of increased deviant behavior, interdependence and reciprocity are still seen. If two youth engage in criminal activity together, there can still be a sense of bonding and interdependence amongst them; considering that criminal behavior can be conducted in order to achieve basic resources (ex. stealing food), young adults who are homeless may not see this behavior as negative, rather as a necessary component of surviving on the streets, and a crucial part of relationship and family building. A young adult who is homeless is entering a new world, in which they have new needs. As they enter this new world they are obligated to create a new reward/cost list for each role they want filled in their new network of support. Within this new outlining of rewards/costs they are able to decide what they are willing to offer others in exchange for what they need. For example, a young adult who is recently homeless and has extensive job history may be able to help a peer fill out job applications in exchange for knowledge of safe places to sleep at night. These sorts of exchanges, if prolonged and consistent can be the basis for a young adult's new street family. Overtime the young adult will begin to solidify even more reward/cost benefits to relationships on the street. Social exchange theory applies well to the creation of street families for young adults who are homeless. It touches on some basic human instincts (self-interest and interdependence) 12

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that young adults who are homeless exhibit and note themselves in research studies. The theory is also able to outline a way in which young adults who are homeless engage in a cost/benefit analysis while creating a new family on the street. This research seeks to measure, identify, and find how exchanges are created amongst young adults who are homeless, their street family, and the service providers they work with at a shelter, using the variables of social exchange theory. 13

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CHAPTER III III. PUBLISHABLE MANUSCRIPT Formation and Functionality: Young Adults Who Are Homeless and Their Street Families Natalie Gorak, Master's Candidate School of Education and Human Development University of Colorado Denver Abstract This research utilized in-depth qualitative interviews with young adults and staff from an urban homeless shelter in order to gain insight into the purpose of street families. Five young adults who reside at a shelter and four staff members were interviewed. Questions were focused on how the young adults defined the concept of family, with a special focus on the role that staff may play in a young adult's family. Analysis indicates that family is a fluid and dynamic concept for these young adults. Further, they differentiated between staff members in regard to their connectedness and type of relationship. Finally, their interaction with social exchange theory is described as important, and grounded in emotional supports, as opposed to tangible supports. KEYWORDS: homeless, young adults, family, social exchange theory 14

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Introduction Homelessness is a critical issue for the city of Denver, and without the network of organizations that provide assistance to this vulnerable population, the problem would be significantly more prevalent. One of these organizations, a non-profit called Urban Peak, provides essential services to over 2,000 homeless young adults each year (Urban Peak, 2016). Urban Peak functions as an overnight and day-time shelter for homeless young adults, and offers services such as basic primary and behavioral health care, education and employment programming, and transitional housing. Of great concern are the barriers to success and stabilization faced by this population such as low academic achievement, poor communication skills and mental health disorders ( Center for Promise, 2014; Munoz, Reichenbach & Hansen, 2005). Another major issue that affects over half of this population is unemployment, with some studies estimating that homeless young adults have unemployment rates ranging from 66-71% (Long, Rio, Rosen, 2007; Ferguson, Xie, Glynn, 2012). Unemployment is a critical issue since this affects one's access to housing, food, and health services, all of which act as barriers to living a healthy life. To make matters more difficult, most homeless young adults will have to navigate the aforementioned barriers and challenges without support from a traditional, biological, family of origin. An organic network of support that functions within street culture is needed for this population, as provision of services by nonprofits who function outside of street culture is severely limited. Typically, most service providers are open only on weekdays during the day, and are limited in the amount of clients they can help. Licensing laws and funding sources are also factors that can limit services provided to this population. For example, Urban Peak's 15

PAGE 24

overnight shelter can only serve clients aged 15-20 due to licensing laws for housing minors (Urban Peak, 2016). As a result, homeless young adults over the age of 20 cannot be helped by Urban Peak, in that respect, and while some may be lucky enough to find space at the extremely limited network of adult shelters, many will end up sleeping on the streets. Likewise, some medical providers can only provide mental health services to clients who have Medicaid or other health insurance, presenting another barrier to mental health care. Licensing laws, age restrictions, and insurance requirements are just a few examples of the many barriers that can prevent nonprofits from serving homeless young adults. Without addressing these barriers, young adults cannot receive necessary support. Annually, it is estimated that well over one million young adults experience homelessness in the United States, a statistic that exemplifies the magnitude of this problem (National Conference of State Legislatures, 2016) With such a large population, it is necessary to conduct more extensive research to better understand how many of these homeless young adults survive without mainstream employment, support, and resources. Literature Review Difficulties in Research of the Homeless It is difficult to find, serve, and conduct research on young adults who are homeless because of their transient nature, the laws that restrict camping and limit access to resources, and the hidden aspects of homelessness. The transient nature of those who are homeless, makes it difficult to conduct longitudinal research. Participants can move at any time, as they are not tied down by legal obligations like a lease or mortgage. Sometimes their transience is of their own volition, but other times the choice is made for them through law. Recent policy in Denver, CO 16

PAGE 25

is an example of how a law can make it increasingly harder for both researchers and organizations who serve those who are homeless to maintain contact with these individuals. In 2012, a municipal code formally called the "Unauthorized camping on public or private property prohibited municipal code" was enacted. More commonly called the urban camping ban, this law c reates situations in which people who are experiencing homelessness are asked to move along and find new places to stay ( Denver Municipal Code, Sec. 38-86.2). This request breaks up camps in areas that service providers and researchers rely upon in order to connect with clients and research participants. Not only are people who are homeless being asked to constantly relocate all of their possessions, a cumbersome and inconvenient process, but they also experience a disconnection from outreach resources and a break in services. When services are not being delivered consistently, progress towards mental stability, housing, employment, and other goals slows down. While research about those who are homeless is difficult to conduct, and the amount that exists today is limited, scholars have found some ways to study why young adults are homeless, how they create families on the street and what the effects of these street families are. Reasons Contributing to Homelessness Research has shown that young adults, much like adults, do not become homeless for one singular reason. The reasons vary, and usually include multiple factors. These range from abuse, lack of sufficient family support due to gender/sexual identity, death of a parent, problems in school, to drug or alcohol use (Rotheram-Borus, Mahler, Koopman, & Langabeer, 1996; Tunaker, 2015; Greenblatt & Robertson, 1993). A study in the late 1980s interviewed 190 young adults who were staying at four transitional shelters in New York City. Over one-third of 17

PAGE 26

participants reported sexual abuse prior to becoming homeless, with 11.6% reporting abuse after age 13 and 25.8% reporting abuse before age 13 (Rotheram-Borus, Mahler, Koopman, & Langabeer, 1996). In addition to abuse, phobias (homophobia, transphobia, etc.) amongst families of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth have been found to be a contributing factor to homelessness for young adults (Busen & Beech, 1997; Tunaker, 2015). These reasons are just a small survey of some of the possible reasons young adults find themselves homeless, and without stable housing, their lives change dramatically. Research on Street Families Without a stable home and support network, researchers have found that many young adults find new support networks to replace the ones they previously had. This creation of new networks can be described by a term called fictive kin, a concept utilized by lower income populations in which support networks that resemble biological families are recreated. McCarthy, Hagan, and Martin (2002) found that many who are homeless create fictive kin families and reap various benefits from the ties. In a more in-depth qualitative study, Smith (2008) uncovered details about the creation of street families while conducting interviews with 30 homeless young adults and five service providers. The study itself explored the processes of creating and maintaining these families. The researchers posed questions that engaged deeply in the role of gender when adopting familial identities, concluding that females were more likely to engage in street relationships and oftentimes performed more "domestic" duties (ex. finding food). Females were also more likely to engage in street families that mirrored their family of origin. The participants noted the reasons why they create a family: to find emotional support, to combat alienation, and the provision of tangible support such as shelter and pooling of resources. 18

PAGE 27

The researcher also explored some of the conflict that can arise amongst these families, for example, incidents of "sibling" rivalry. Additional benefits to creating street families were noted in a study published by Stablein in 2001. Stablein discusses the idea of bonding social capital, discovered while interviewing young adults who are homeless in the US. The research stated that young adults who were homeless reported that they protected each other, helped each other find services, helped each other socialize, and provided affective (ie. social-emotional) supports. These supports helped the young adults mitigate the challenges faced while living on the streets or in other unstable housing situations. While the research basis in this area is small, it concludes that young adults who are homeless are creating families that oftentimes mimic the support found in healthy, functioning, biological families. Further investigation into the actual processes by which these young adults are creating and maintaining street families is in dire need to better understand and interact with these families. Social Exchange Theory This research study is grounded in social exchange theory in order to explore the process by which young adults who are homeless create and maintain street families. The bonds that tie the young adults and their families together mimic the bonds that social exchange theory posits exist between biological family members. One of the main tenets of social exchange theory is the idea that people are motivated by self-interest (Smith & Hamon, 2017). This self interest leads individuals to engage in relationships which offer them some benefit, whether it be emotional, financial, physical, etc. 19

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This self-interest shows itself often within the community of young adults who are homeless. Many who engage in the process of creating a street family note that they receive various benefits because of the relationships (Smith, 2008; Stablein, 2001; McCarthy, Hagan & Martin, 2002; Bao, Whitbeck & Hoyt, 2000). It is not surprising that a young adult who is homeless would seek the support and benefits of being in a larger group, where there is often safety and resources in numbers. Young adults who are homeless can be especially prone to being selfinterested as they are functioning independently from the support groups they once knew (ex. family) and are now venturing into a world where they are, oftentimes, the only ones looking out for themselves. This increased self-interest can lead to creating relationships in which they see a benefit for themselves. A second tenet of social exchange theory is that social relationships are marked by interdependence and reciprocity (Smith & Hamon, 2017). In street family relationships this can play out in various ways. Young adults who are recently homeless may be seeking guidance on how to stay safe on the streets; by finding a street family they can be mentored and guided by their new family members and eventually be able to pass on that guidance to other young adults (Stablein, 2001). Although, at times this interdependence has played out in harmful ways for young adults who are homeless, increasing deviant behavior (Rizzinni, 2003). However, even in the case of increased deviant behavior, the increased interdependence and reciprocity can still be seen as a positive outcome. If two youth engage in criminal activity together, there can still be a sense of bonding and interdependence between them; considering that criminal behavior can be conducted in order to achieve basic resources (ex. stealing food), young adults who are homeless 20

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may not see this behavior as negative. Rather they see it as a necessary component of surviving on the streets, and a crucial part of relationship and family building. Social exchange theory applies well to the creation of street families for young adults who are homeless. It touches on some basic human instincts (self-interest and interdependence) that young adults who are homeless exhibit and note themselves in research studies. This research seeks to measure, identify, and discover how exchanges are created amongst young adults who are homeless, their street family, and the service providers they work with, using the variables of social exchange theory. Demographics The demographics of young adults who are homeless are difficult to uncover for the reasons mentioned in the section above. However, different organizations across the United States have come up with various surveys to attempt to ascertain the numbers and demographics of the young adults they work with. One widely used survey is the Point in Time Survey (PIT) created by the US Housing and Urban Development department. This survey gathers population information about those who are homeless in cities across the US and the data is then analyzed and reviewed by Congress (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, 2018). According to the 2017 PIT data, 62% of young adults who were homeless were male, 25% were Hispanic or Latino, 50% were White, 33% were African American and the remaining young adults identified as multiracial (10%), Native American (4%), and Asian and Pacific Islander (3%). Of note, the survey found that young adults were much more likely to be unsheltered (living in a place not designated for sleeping) than older adults (living in a shelter, safe haven, or transitional housing) (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, 2017). 21

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Methods Guiding Research Questions This study utilized in-depth qualitative interviews with young adults who are homeless and sought to answer the following research questions: 1. What does the structure of street families look like for young adults who are homeless? 2. What is the process by which these families are created? What roles and functions do these families play for the young adults? 3. How do young adults view services providers functioning within the family structure? How do service providers see themselves functioning within the family? Sample The sample for this research consisted of clients and staff of a homeless shelter in Denver, Colorado. Of the five clients who participated in the study, four identified as male and one identified as female. They ranged in age from 18-20 years old, and included a diverse group. Two identified as White, one as African American, one as Mexican/Latina, and one as interracial. One participant noted during his interview that he is transgender, although a demographic question about gender identity was not asked of him, or other participants. There were four males and one female in the young adult sample. The participants in the staff sample have worked at Urban Peak for period of time ranging from a year and a half to six and a half years. All four staff members identified as case managers, three of whom were shelter case managers and one of whom was a lead education and employment case manager. 22

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Research Design This research was conducted through in-depth qualitative interviews with young adults who are homeless (age 18-20), and who are reside at the same shelter. Additionally, service providers (staff) at a local shelter were interviewed to ascertain their perspective on young adults forming families on the street, and their opinion of their role in the lives of the young adults. The design of this study was intended to gain deeper insight into the world in which the young adults function, focusing specifically on the interpersonal relationships they have created on the street that mimics and/or replaces a biological family. This qualitative style of research is common in this subject area, and was found in many research studies while preparing for this study. Phenomenological qualitative research lends itself well to this study, as it helps the researcher determine what an experience has meant for a person, and by definition allows them to give a comprehensive account of the experience (Moustakas, 1994). This study was approved by the Colorado Multiple Institutional Review Board (COMIRB). Procedure Interviews took place at the shelter during various times. Participants gave verbal consent to the interview before it began. The interviews consisted of specific questions asked from an interview guide. The interviewer followed the interview protocol, asking the same question, in the same order, with probing questions when appropriate. The interviews were recorded on digital audio for transcription purposes. No compensation was provided to participants, and all were informed that they could end the interview or refuse to answer any of the questions. Pseudonyms were assigned to all participants during transcription and in this paper in order to protect their identity and confidentiality. 23

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Interview Protocol The interview began by the interviewer reading a consent form, while the participant had a copy in front of them. The interviewer then asked if the interviewee had any questions, and if they gave consent to the interview. Once consent was granted, the interviewer began asking questions. The interviewer utilized the interview protocol and interview guide. The participants were told they could refuse to answer any of the questions by saying "pass". The interviewer was able to ask probing questions after an answer to gain clearer insight into the participants response and meaning Data Analysis Following transcription, and name replacement, data was coded to identify common themes and topics. The researcher used an inductive style of data analysis in which categories and themes developed from the data collected. Thick descriptive quotes were identified as examples of each theme. During interviews the researcher took notes highlighting any outstanding comments, which were then compared later to transcripts and analyzed for commonalities, much like Creswell and Creswell (2018) describe "peeling back the layers of an onion" (p. 190). Findings Five themes were revealed in the data. The first theme, as noted by young adults and the staff working with them, is that family can be understood as both a fluid and dynamic concept for this sample, and was guided by the research question, "What does the structure of street families look like for young adults who are homeless?" 24

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A second theme explores the creation of family and the roles played in conjunction with the guiding research questions, "What is the process by which these families are created? What roles and functions do these families play for the young adults?" The creation of family bonds is reliant on the exhibition of trust, respect and other social-emotional supports. A third theme emerged when considering the research questions involving service providers and the roles they play within the family structure. This theme illustrated that these young adults have distinct interactions with individual staff members, which differ depending on the level of connectedness and type of existing relationship between each participant and staff member. The importance of instilling boundaries as part of staff's role also emerged in conjunction with this theme. Responses grounded in the tenets of social exchange theory are outlined as the fourth predominant theme. The responses revealed that the tenets of self-interest, reciprocity, and interdependence are prevalent in the formation, structure and maintenance of street families. For these young adults, their interaction with social exchange theory was grounded in emotional supports and did not necessarily include tangible, physical exchanges. The reciprocal nature of their relationships appeared paramount. Additionally, an unexpected, yet important distinction between two subpopulations of young adults who are homeless emerged as a fifth theme. There is a perceived difference in family street culture of those who reside in shelters and those who are actively living on the streets, or have spent a prolonged amount of time on the streets. 25

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Structure of Family Based on the first research question, it became apparent that the family structures of the participating young adults varied. Many of them identified biological relations as part of their family, as well as an expanded family that included non-related members, such as peers, and on occasion, staff at the shelter. Service provider responses were aligned with young adult respondents in this area, in that they considered the young adults to have an expansive definition of family that could include biological and non-biological family members alike. Two responses clearly revealed a family like relationship between clients experiencing homelessness. In one example, which highlights a sense of mentorship and interdependence, components of social exchange theory, a case manager, Georgia, described a father-son relationship that existed between one of her older male clients and an unrelated minor client at the shelter. She explained that the older client felt a responsibility to protect and care for the younger client. A second example, provided by case manager Hannah, referenced a client who felt like she acted as a mom for other young adults who are homeless, and that at times that responsibility demands that she give up her spot at the shelter in order to stay with her street family. This second example exemplifies connections to social exchange theory, in which a high level of interdependence among those who are homeless influences their decisions. The concept of family was dynamic and fluid for many of the young adults. One exception to the fluidity was Adam who firmly believed, and defined, his family as being those who raised him. The other young adults however, did not limit their family to biological relationships, as illustrated by the following, said by Evan: 26

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Because like blood family is cool, but they can like cross (you), like I said, mine crossed on me and so like the only way I can get pro family is just like going out, seeing who's really real and who's gonna ride for meYeah you just gotta prove that you're real. Frank, another young adult, expressed similar sentiments, saying that family is "whoever is there to have your back in the rough times and love you through that". These quotes illuminate the flexible lens through which these young adults view family; family is based on interactions and behavior not biology. Additionally, responses indicated that someone could flow in and out of a familial role based on their behavior. This finding is tied strongly to the idea of reciprocity and interdependence, tenets of social exchange theory. Through the commentary on give and take, "having your back" and "proving you're real" the importance of reciprocal relationships was highlighted. The theme of ever-changing family membership based on reliability is deeply embedded amongst this population. The diverse and expansive definition of family held by these young adults reflects a non-traditional view of family. Creation of Family and Roles Many of the young adults mentioned that it was important for potential family members to reveal the type of person they are by exhibiting trust, respect, and other social-emotional markers in a relationship. This theme related directly to the second group of guiding research questions focused on the processes and roles of family. Additionally, this finding ties directly to social exchange theory's tenet of self-interest. The young adults were able to easily answer questions pertaining to the benefits they receive from their families, specifically the social! 27

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emotional supports mentioned in the quotes below. Following, are quotes gathered by asking participants "what family means to them". Bianca, a young adult stated: I don't know, I guess just the people that are there for you, like they won't turntheir back, or stab you, like yeah you get some fights and stuff but they wouldn't really do anything to harm you. Additionally, Cameron, a young adult defined family as:, "A circle of support(s), that show sympathy, empathy, respect." and later clarified and added that family involved consistency and shared experiences: Well, I define family as like a connection between a certain amount of people, that are like they know each other from a certain age. Or they've grown up together or they stayed in the same house together, that's how I consider family. Both quotes add to the conclusion that these young adults prioritize social-emotional supports when engaging in family construction, and highlight the focus on self-interest and the benefits the young adults receive in these relationships as identified in social exchange theory. Danielle, a staff member offered a description of her observations of a particular client, in regard to street family connections and supports: I have a client who is not connected to any other shelter clients he's more of a street client and he feels verylike safe and connected to his street family, and so staying here is really hard for him, because he feels like really isolated and alone, and feels like it more negatively affects his mental health for him to be in this spaceAnd it's (the street family) providing him a baseline of stability that he doesn't feel elsewhere. 28

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Danielle's comments enhance and clarify the concept of family that many of the young adults indicated; family is someone, or a group of people, that provide safety and security. This quote also highlights the idea that those bonds with other homeless young adults may provide a stability than can be difficult to separate from when exiting the streets and entering a shelter. The process by which a person becomes a part of the young adult's family was often referenced as a long, time-based process, in which someone has to prove themselves, and oftentimes have shared experiences in order to gain family status. For these young adults, the distinction between family or not often lays in the history of these shared experiences based on trust as respect, and ties to the reciprocal nature of relationships, as explained by social exchange theory. The shared experiences allowed the young adults to create an environment of give and take, a person experiencing a shared experience will be rewarded with loyalty and respect. While staff could potentially serve as another source of emotional support through trust and respect, it was clear that for some, shelter staff are not considered part of the family structure, as expressed by Cameron: I wouldn't consider them family because they like, they don't knowthey know about you through paper. They don't know you through experience, so you couldn't call them family unless they've experienced half of the things you've experienced. Although this could be viewed by some as problematic to a client and case manager relationship, utilizing a strengths based perspective, the resiliency the young adults have fostered is evident. Additionally, this quote adds to the base of evidence supporting the conclusion that shared experiences are integral to family creation. The bonding experience was highlighted in a quote 29

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from Hannah, a staff member, who praised her clients' resiliency and ability to form family bonds when she said: I think that's wonderful that a lot of these youth that have been burned, have been traumatized by a lot of people, are at least, even if it's not with the best people and the best choices all the time, they're at least allowing themselves to be in a relationship with people, and they haven't written off society as a whole. These findings illustrate that emotional support is one of the most important characteristics of those considered to be family. Young adults bond with others when there is a foundation of trust and respect. Interestingly, it appears that the human connection can sometimes override staying at the shelter and feeling isolated. This second theme concludes that while trust and respect seem to be fundamental to the relationship, it also appears that homeless youth are resilient and able to seek alternative relationships when others fail.This is connected to a tenet of social exchange theory./.. Service Provider Role The third group of guiding research questions revolved around service providers and their roles; the answers to these questions elucidated the role of staff as primarily non-family. All of the young adults differentiated between staff members in some way. Many of the young adults expressed that whether or not a staff member was viewed as a friend, professional, or something else entirely was dependent upon the nature of their interactions and their style of working with the clients. They noted that some staff have an authoritative approach, enforcing more rules, and others have a "friendly" approach, exhibited by lax enforcement of rules. The friendly approach appealed more to the young adults. One young adult, Frank, felt a strong emotional connection 30

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his case manager, saying "I even told him I'm his adopted son and he doesn't have a choice on it." His perception of his case manager as a family member stood out from the rest, he noted that his connection to his case manager stemmed from trust and reliability. Boundaries appeared an important role distinction for all of the staff, something they considered when engaging in relationships with clients. Hannah reported that one of her client's often refers to her as mom, but that she redirects this behavior often, reminding the client that while she is supportive, being her mom is not her role. The concept was also mentioned by Georgia, here she described the difficulty in finding a balance: Like you don't want to cross that line, but you also want them to know that you're here for them and that you care about them, and that you're going to support them, but then just having, being able to like close that, like that professional/client relationship when the time comes. This concept of boundaries was repeated by all staff interviewed and appeared integral to their role. Boundaries were referenced as a way to create a healthy relationship with clients, and they allowed a clear distinction of what was and was not appropriate behavior. Through the research process the role that the service providers play in the lives of their clients was clearly delineated. Generally, the young adults agreed that staff do not play a familial role in their lives, and the staff echoed this sentiment. This could be due to the inability of staff to have true reciprocal relationships with their clients, a tenet of social exchange theory. Within a client/staff dynamic there is an innate sense of authority, and the young adults highlighted that authority as a barrier between themselves and staff. That barrier of authority could prevent a 31

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reciprocal relationship, in which the client and staff member engage in a "give and take" mentality. The Importance of Reciprocal Relationships The importance of reciprocal relationships is a critical conceptual tenant of social exchange theory and helps explain this phenomenon. Concepts of self-interest were commonly referenced, as the majority of the young adults mentioned that family relationships were based on receiving something, whether that be emotional support or physical goods. Cameron's response when asked to identify positive aspects of a family relationship was the most forthcoming with tangible benefits, reporting that his brother helped him by giving him bus tickets and clothes. Reciprocity and interdependence, two other tenets, were also mentioned by various young adults who described the importance of "give and take" relationships, in which reciprocal behavior and action was crucial to familial bonds. Bianca, when creating her definition of family said that it was "somebody that you know you would do like anything for without second thought, because of everything that they've done to you" Furthermore, Evan said "I'll respect you if you respect me, we cool." The bulk of the responses by young adults when asked about the positive aspects of family relationships were focused on the emotional support as opposed to the tangible, material support. Evan's responses were especially concentrated on emotional support, saying, We just helped each other, build each other up, try to at least, you know, keep each other positive happy, you know, stuff like thatjust being there for each other. 32

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Out of all young adult interviewees he had the most recent and most prolonged exposure to living on the streets. This recent and in-depth connectedness in street culture may have influenced his focus on emotional support. Isabella, a case manager, summarized the socioemotional benefits a street family can offer in this way: I think that's a benefit of having a group like that in this space, or in the homeless community, is it makes them feel more connected and that tends to make them be more positive in spaces that can be really negative.You know, this community space can get really negative, but like that can sometimes help when they have clear relationships with family. It sort of helps alleviate those negative effects of the community, I think that's a positive. The young adults and staff were also questioned about any negative consequences of family bonds. Answers from the young adults varied, but for many, they recognized arguments or disagreements as necessary and acceptable components of being in a family. Staff were more concrete in identifying harmful consequences, referencing illegal behaviors (stealing, substance use), negative group mentality, and giving up a spot in the shelter to remain with their street family. Social exchange theory provided a framework in which to organize the positive and negative consequences of street families. Though less important than social-emotional ties, physical exchanges of goods were mentioned as a positive aspect of family relationships. Negative consequences, while noted, were not seen to be a deterrent to the interactions and relationships. 33

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Distinction of Sub-populations A theme that emerged unexpectedly was the division of the young adult population into two groups: those who reside in a shelter and those who are actively living on the streets. Hannah, a case manager, explained it in the following way: We have the best, best friend sort of thing here where its like, we get along, we understand each other, we do everything togetherversus the, and of course this is not for everybody but the ones that come to mind they are more out of a, I trust you enough to sleep near you, to share my things with you, to let you watch my stuff, I'll watch yours, you got my back, I got yours. Other staff echoed this idea, citing that there is a clear difference between a client who is living at the shelter and one who is living on the streets, and the difference often lies in the level of enmeshment in street family culture. This concept is not without its logic, as those who are living on the street are either relying on themselves or peers to survive. Their needs are not being met by service providers, and therefore they seek support from elsewhere. One of the young adults, Evan, who reported spending at least a year on the streets (the most of any client), sleeping in apartment complex laundry rooms, highlights this distinction. When asked who his family is, he did not mention any biological relations, referring only to friends that he had grown up with and "been through the same things with." His answers indicated an increased level of importance placed on the bonds he felt with his street family and a decreased level of importance for biological relations. These distinct sub-populations speak to the entrenchment those who actively live on the streets feel with street culture. The emergence of this theme was enhanced by a comments from 34

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staff members Isabella and Hannah. They felt that clients will, at times, give up a place in the shelter in order to remain with their street family. That decision based on allegiance results in a loss of shelter, food, and other services, yet the young adult makes it willingly. The bond between members of a street family must be strong in order to merit that sacrifice. Discussion This research allowed for an inside view of the lives of a population that is difficult to research due to their transient and vulnerable nature. Through qualitative interviews with both young adults experiencing homelessness and the staff members that work with them, this study provides an initial step towards understanding parts of their experiences. While on a small scale, this research allowed part of a sometimes invisible population to reflect on their experiences, have a voice, and be heard. Their voices tell us that family is being redefined by this population, no longer are biological ties the only ones that bind people together. Instead, shared experiences, loyalty, trust, and respect are the components that help build a family. This study revealed that at times a street family can make it difficult for young adults to exit the streets and engage in shelter services. This difficulty in separating ties with people they have formed bonds with is consistent with prior research (Garrett, Higa, Phares, Peterson, Wells, & Baer, 2008). It appears that some young adults value their relationships with peers so much so that they would place them above their basic needs. The human connection binding them with their street family is paramount to a warm bed, food, and supportive staff. Consistent with prior research were the findings related to the structure of family and the creation of family and roles (Stablien, 2001; Smith, 2008). Family was found to be a fluid concept based on bonding, with variable membership grounded in social-emotional support. 35

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Deviant behavior was also noted to be a part of the bonding process, as noted in previous literature (Bao, Whitbeck, & Hoyt, 2000). The unexpected finding regarding sub-populations distance in their street family enmeshment indicates the bonds forged on the streets may be stronger than predicted. The young adults who chose to remain with street families and actively live on the streets may place a higher value on those relationships than those who choose to enter a shelter. It would be insightful to create a study in which the strength of bonds, as measured by tenets of social exchange theory, was used to compare the two sub-populations. Strengths and Limitations One of the foundational strengths of this research was the social capital this researcher had built prior to this study. Through years of professional work at the organization this researcher constructed a level of mutual understanding, cooperation, and trust with the participants in the study. This social capital was an asset to the qualitative research style employed. Young adults who are homeless are a vulnerable and at times difficult to reach population. Through in-depth and semi-structured interviews, the young adults were able to share their thoughts and opinions openly, a strength of this study. Additionally, interviewing both staff and clients at the same shelter, revealed insight into the similarities and differences in how the young adults and staff perceive the same concepts. One of the limitations of this study was the small amount of participants. A larger sample size, of both young adults and staff, would allow for more insight and more diverse perspectives amongst participants. This research was limited by time and funding in this respect. Additionally, 36

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this research was limited in scope by including only young adult participants who reside at the shelter. Expanding the research to those who utilize other services offered by the shelter would provide a broader perspective. This limited scope and insight was highlighted by the emergence of two sub population themes. Future research should consider expanding scope to include a larger, more diverse sample. Also, due to time constraints this writer was unable to engage in member checking, in which participants of the study would have had an opportunity to review the conclusions of the research study and verify for validity (Creswell & Miller, 2010). Member checking would have been insightful, as this researcher feels the participants may have chosen to elaborate and provide more in-depth answers after further consideration. Implications for Practice and Future Research These young adults identified various traits that were important to them in forming family bonds, of which service providers should note. If service providers can better understand the needs of clients they may be able to help them form healthier and more positive relationships. Secondly, the repeated importance placed on boundaries by staff speaks to the cohesiveness of staff at this shelter, and should be imitated by other organizations. While each staff member mentioned slight variances in their own boundaries with youth, there was a general level of agreement on where to "draw the line" in regard to appropriate connections with clients. If organizations are struggling with client/staff boundaries, an organization wide training on appropriate boundaries would be beneficial. When staff mutually agree on boundaries, the chances for delivery of consistent service are increased. 37

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Social exchange theory was used in this research and was found beneficial in examining the relationships between young adults who are homeless and those they consider family. However, the complexity of the population may benefit from multiple theoretical perspectives and analyses. Future researchers should consider combining or utilizing multiple theories when exploring the street families of young adults who are homeless. Specifically, examining the relationships from a social capital perspective may allow for more insight into the street family culture. It is clear that these young adults are amassing social capital and utilizing it to survive. Conceptualizing social capital as a potential asset of the young adults would allow researchers to evaluate its effects and in turn maximize it's benefits. Barman-Adhikari, Bowen, Bender, Brown, and Rice (2016) conducted research with this focus and should be used for further reference. Conclusion This paper has reviewed literature surrounding the creation of street families by young adults who are homeless. Research posits that there are various reasons why a young adult finds themselves on the street, lacking support from their family of origin. Once the young adult is on the street, research shows that they create families to replace those lost, or never had. These ties provide crucial support to youth on the street, allowing them to survive in harsh, and at times, dangerous environments. This paper sought to explore the network young adults who are homeless create and live within. Specifically, this study utilized qualitative interviews with young adults who are homeless and the case managers that work with them to ascertain if any familial ties exist between client and staff. This study was successful in exploring the emotional needs of young 38

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adults who are homeless and highlighted those mentioned. Themes connected to the fluidity of family, the roles family members and staff play, the importance of social-emotional supports emerged and were explored. Additionally, the young adult population was found to have two sub-populations that differ in their level of enmeshment with street family culture. Research has shown that young adults are creating families and familial bonds to substitute for the ones sometimes lost when entering the streets, but we need to delve deeper and wider into this realm in order to better understand the process and better provide for those who are homeless. 39

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CHAPTER IV IV. GLOBAL DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION Discussion This research allowed for an inside view of the lives of a population that is difficult to research due to their transient and vulnerable nature. Through qualitative interviews with both young adults experiencing homelessness and the staff members that work with them, this study provides an initial step towards understanding parts of their experiences were taken. Those who are homeless are often referred to as an invisible population. While on a small scale, this research allowed part of a sometimes invisible population to reflect on their experiences, have a voice, and be heard. Their voices tell us that family is being redefined by this population. No longer are biological ties the only ones that bind people together. Instead, shared experiences, loyalty, trust, and respect are the components that help build a family. This study revealed that at times a street family can make it difficult for young adults to exit the streets and engage in shelter services. This difficulty in separating ties with people they have formed bonds with is consistent with prior research (Garrett, Higa, Phares, Peterson, Wells, & Baer, 2008). It appears that some young adults value their relationships with peers so much so that they would place them above their basic needs.The human connection binding them with their street family is paramount to a warm bed, food, and supportive staff. Consistent with prior research were the findings related to the structure of family and the creation of family and roles (Stablien, 2001; Smith, 2008). Family was found to be a fluid concept based on bonding, with variable membership ground in social-emotional support. 40

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Deviant behavior was also noted to be a part of the bonding process, as noted in previous literature (Bao, Whitbeck, & Hoyt, 2000). The unexpected finding regarding sub-populations distance in their street family enmeshment indicates the bonds forged on the streets may be stronger than predicted. The young adults who chose to remain with street families and actively live on the streets may place a higher value on those relationships than those who choose to enter a shelter. It would be insightful to create a study in which the strength of bonds, as measured by tenets of social exchange theory, was used to compare the two sub-populations. In order to support these young adults, a clearer understanding of their family dynamics is needed. For many of the young adults traumatic pasts influence their ability and desire to make connections with other people, and in order to fulfill their role as case manager, staff have to make connections with their clients. This connection need not be familial, and in fact maybe should not be staff as echoed in this research, but it must incorporate some of the socialemotional traits that the young adults value and hold in high esteem. This research highlighted those traits and with this knowledge, staff can begin to create healthy, stable, and productive relationships with their clients. Strengths and Limitations One of the foundational strengths of this research was the social capital this researcher had built prior to this study. Through years of professional work at the organization this researcher constructed a level of mutual understanding, cooperation, and trust with the participants in the study. This social capital was an asset to the qualitative research style employed in this study. 41

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Young adults who are homeless are a vulnerable and at times difficult to reach population, and through in-depth and semi structured interviews, the young adults were able to share their thoughts and opinions openly, a strength of this study. Additionally, by interviewing both staff and clients at the same shelter, insight into the similarities and differences in how the young adults and staff perceive the same concepts was ascertained. One of the limitations of this study was the small amount of participants. A larger sample size, of both young adults and staff, would have allowed for more insight and more diversity amongst participants. This research was limited by time and funding in this respect. Additionally, this research was limited in scope by including only young adult participants who reside at the shelter. Expanding the research to those who utilize other services offered by the shelter would provide a broader perspective. This limited scope and insight was highlighted by the emergence of two sub population themes. Future research should consider expanding scope to include a larger, more diverse sample. Also, due to time constraints this writer was unable to engage in member checking, in which participants of the study would have an opportunity to review the conclusions of the research study and verify for validity (Creswell & Miller, 2010). Member checking would have been insightful, as this researcher feels the participants may have chosen to elaborate and provide more in-depth answers after further consideration. Implications for Practice and Future Research These young adults identified various traits that were important to them in forming family bonds, of which service providers should note. If service providers can better understand the needs of clients they may be able to help them form healthier and more positive relationships. 42

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Also, insight into why clients differentiated between staff was not necessarily a goal of this research, however, many of the young adults alluded to negative interactions with staff as having detrimental effects on their relationship status, specifically interactions that included a theme of authority. Thus, organizations such as this shelter may want to evaluate how consequences and behavior redirections are taking place. Secondly, the repeated importance placed on boundaries by staff speaks to the cohesiveness of staff at this shelter, and should be imitated by other organizations. While each staff member mentioned slight variances in their own boundaries with youth, there was a general level of agreement on where to "draw the line" in regard to appropriate connections with clients. If organizations are struggling with client/staff boundaries, an organization wide training on appropriate boundaries would be beneficial. When staff mutually agree on boundaries, the chances for delivery of consistent service are increased. Social exchange theory was used in this research and was found beneficial in examining the relationships between young adults who are homeless and those they consider family. However, the complexity of the population may benefit from multiple theoretical perspectives and analyses. Future researchers should consider combining or utilizing multiple theories when exploring the street families of young adults who are homeless. Specifically, examining the relationships from a social capital perspective may allow for more insight into the street family culture. It is clear that these young adults are amassing social capital and utilizing it to survive. Conceptualizing social capital as a potential asset of the young adults would allow researchers to evaluate its effects and in turn maximize it's benefits. Barman-Adhikari, Bowen, 43

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Bender, Brown, and Rice (2016) conducted research with this focus and should be used for further reference. Conclusion Youth homelessness is a rampant, national and international challenge. Without further study and exploration, the ways in which young adults who are homeless function and survive will remain a mystery. While this mystery remains, society's ability to provide adequate services to them will continue to be insufficient, leading to prolonged and increased periods of homelessness This paper has reviewed literature surrounding the creation of street families by young adults who are homeless. Research posits that there are various reasons why a young adult finds themselves on the street, lacking support from their family of origin. Once the young adult is on the street, research shows that they are creating families and fictive kin ties to replace those lost, or never had. These ties provide crucial support to youth on the street, allowing them to survive in a harsh, and at times, dangerous environment. This paper sought to explore the network young adults who are homeless create and live within. Specifically, this study utilized qualitative interviews with young adults who are homeless and the case managers that work with them to ascertain if any familial ties exist between client and staff. This study was successful in exploring the emotional needs of young adults who are homeless and highlighted those mentioned. Themes connected to the fluidity of family, the roles family members and staff play, the importance of social-emotional supports emerged and were explored. Additionally, the young adult population was found to have two sub-populations that differ in their level of enmeshment with street family culture. 44

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Research has shown that young adults are creating families and familial bonds to substitute for the ones sometimes lost when entering the streets, but we need to delve deeper and wider into this realm in order to better understand the process and better provide for those who are homeless. 45

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REFERENCES Bao, W., Whitbeck, L.B., & Hoyt, D.R. (2000). Abuse, support and depression among homeless and runaway adolescents. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 41 p. 408-420. Barman-Adhikari, A., Bowen, E., Bender, K., Brown, S., Rice, E. (2016). A social capital approach to identifying correlates of perceived social support among homeless youth. Child & Youth Care Form, 45 (5), 691-708. doi:10.1007/s10566-016-9352-3 Busen, N.H., & Beech, B. (1997). A collaborative model for community-based health care screening of homeless adolescents. Journal of Professional Nursing, 13 (5), 316-324. Center for Promise. (2014). Don't call them dropouts; understanding the experiences of young people who leave high school before graduation. Retrieved from http:// gradnation.americaspromise.org/report/dont-call-them-dropouts Creswell, J.W. & Miller, D.L. (2010). Determining validity in qualitative inquiry. Theory into Practice, 39 (3), 124-130. doi: 10.1207/s15430421tip3903_2 Creswell, J.W. & Creswell J.D. (2018). Research designs: Qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods approaches (5th ed.). Los Angeles, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc. Faubion, J.D. (2001). The ethics of kinship; Ethnographic inquiries. New York, NY: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc. Ferguson, K. (2009). Exploring the psychosocial and behavioral adjustment outcomes of multi-type abuse among homeless young adults. Social Work Research, 22 (4). Retrieved from: http://0-www.jstor.org.skyline.ucdenver.edu/stable/42659733 Ferguson, K., Xie, B., & Glynn, S. (2012). Adapting the individual placement and support model with homeless young adults. Child & Youth Care Forum, 41 (3), 277-294. doi:10.1007/ s10566-011-9163-5 Gaetz, S., & O'Grady, B. (2002). Making money: exploring the economy of young homeless workers. SAGE Publications, 16 (3), 433-456. Retrieved from http://0journals.sagepub.com.skyline.ucdenver.edu/doi/pdf/10.1177/095001702762217425 Garrett, S.B., Higa, D.H., Phares, M.M., Peterson, P.L., Wells, E.A., & Baer, J.S. (2008). Homeless youth's perceptions of services and transitions to stable housing. Evaluating and Program Planning, 31 (4), 436-444. doi:10.1016/j.evalprogplan.2008.04.012 Greenblatt, M. & Robertson, M. J. (1993). Homeless adolescents: Lifestyle, survival strategies 46

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and sexual behaviors. Hospital and Community Psychiatry, 44, 1177-1180. Long, D., Rio, J., & Rosen, J. (2007). Employment and income supports for homeless people Retrieved from http://aspe.hhs.gov/hsp/homelessness/symposium07/long/. McCarthy, B., Hagan, J., & Martin, M.J. (2002). In and out of harm's way: Violent victimization and the social capital of street families. Criminology, 40 (4), 831-866. Moustakas, C. (1994). Phenomenological Research Methods. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc. Munoz, J., Reichenbach, D., & Hansen, A. (2005). Project employ: Engineering hope and breaking down barriers to homelessness. Work 25 (3), 241. Retrieved from http://0web.b.ebscohost.com.skyline.ucdenver.edu/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer? sid=20f88a41-26b3-4d2d-8044-20106f5bc164%40sessionmgr102&vid=1&hid=116 National Conference of State Legislatures. (2016). Homeless and runaway youth Retrieved from http://www.ncsl.org/research/human-services/homeless-and-runaway-youth.aspx Rizzini, I., Butler, U.M. (2003) Trajectories of children and adolescents surviving on the streets of Rio de Janerio. Children, Youth and Environments, 13 (1), 182-201. Rotheram-Borus, M., Mahler, K. A., Koopman, C., & Langabeer, K. (1996). Sexual abuse history and associated multiple risk behavior in adolescent runaways. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 66(3), 390-400. doi: 10.1037/h0080189 Smith, H. (2008). Searching for kinship: The creation of street families among homeless youth. American Behavioral Scientist, 51 (6), 756-771. Smith, S.R. & Hamon, R.R. (2017). Exploring family theories (4th ed.). New York, NY: Oxford University Press. Stablein, T. (2001). Helping friends and the homeless milieu: Social capital and the utility of street peers. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 40 (3), 290-317. doi: 10.1177/0891241610390365 Tunaker, C. (2015). No place like home? Home Cultures: The Journal of Architecture, Design and Domestic Space, 12 (2), 241-259. Unauthorized camping on public or private property prohibited, Denver Municipal Code, Sec. 38-86.2. Urban Peak. (2016). Impact Report 2015; Oct 1,2014-Sep 30, 2015 Denver, CO. 47

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U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. (2018). Point in Time. Retrieved from https://www.hud.gov/. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. (2017). The 2017 annual homeless assessment report (AHAR) to Congress: Part 1: Point-in-time estimates of homelessness. Washington, D.C. 48

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APPENDIX APPENDIX A A. COMIRB AP PROVAL FORM 49 Colorado Multiple Institutional Review Board, CB F490 University of Colorado, Anschutz Medical Campus 13001 E. 17th Place, Building 500, Room N3214 Aurora, Colorado 80045 303.724.1055 303.724.0990 COMIRB Home Page comirb@ucdenver.edu FWA00005070 [ Phone] [Fax] [Web] [E-Mail] [FWA] University of Colorado Hospital Denver Health Medical Center Veteran's Administration Medical Center Children's Hospital Colorado University of Colorado Denver Colorado Prevention Center Certificate of Approval 14-Mar-2018 Investigator: Natalie Gorak Subject: COMIRB Protocol 18-0367 Initial Application Review Date: 13-Mar-2018 Effective Date: 13-Mar-2018 Expiration Date: 12-Mar-2019 Sponsor(s): Title: Formation and Functionality: Young Adults who are Homeless and their Street Families Submission ID: APP001-1 SUBMISSION DESCRIPTION: Initial expedited submission Your COMIRB Initial Application submission APP001-1 has been APPROVED until the expiration date listed above. The investigator will need to submit this research for Continuing Review at least 45 days prior to the expiration date. Study personnel are approved to conduct the research as described in the documents approved by COMIRB, which are listed below the REVIEW DETAILS section. Please carefully review the REVIEW DETAILS section because COMIRB may have made red-line changes (i.e. revisions) to the submitted documents prior to approving them. The investigator can submit an amendment to revise the documents if the investigator does not agree with the red-line changes. The REVIEW DETAILS section may also include important information from the reviewer(s) and COMIRB staff. Effective May 23, 2017, COMIRB will only approval-stamp consent documents (e.g. consent forms, assent forms, information sheets, etc.) and local advertisements. Stamped copies of these documents are available for download through COMIRB's electronic submission website, eRA(InfoEd). COMIRB approval letters will continue to list all reviewed and approved documents. Click here for instructions on how to retrieve stamped documents.

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APPENDIX B B. POSTCARD CONSENT FORM YOUNG ADULTS 50

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APPENDIX C C. POST CARD CONSENT FORM STAFF 51

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APPENDIX D D. INTERVIEW GUIDE Interview Questions and Guide All interview questions are subject to further discussion in order to draw out relevant information due to the qualitative nature of the research. Demographic Questions: Preferred Gender: Age: Ethnicity: Background questions (for young adult only): 1. How long have you been homeless? 2. How long have you been at this shelter? 3. Have you spent any time on the streets? Family questions: 1. What does family mean to you? 2. Who is a part of your family? 1. How did they become a part of your family? For example, are they related by blood to you, did you meet them and over time they became your family or was there a particular moment/reason they became your family? 2. How do you think they help you? Can you give me some examples? 3. Are there any downsides or negative consequences to these relationships? Can you give me some examples? 3. Has your definition of family changed since you have started experiencing homelessness? Why or why not? 4. Have the people you consider family changed since you have started experiencing homelessness? 5. Do you consider staff at this shelter a part of your family? 1. Why or why not? 2. What sort of expectations do you have for staff at the shelter? For example, how do you expect them to treat and interact with you, would you describe it as similar to how a teacher, mom, dad, uncle, aunt, etc. would? 1. Are these expectations being met? 3. Do you see them filling a certain role? For example, a mentor, aunt/uncle, teacher, etc. 4. Do you think they see themselves as filling that same role, or do you and the staff member see things differently? 6. Do you think you view and define family differently than other people? 1. What about how society views family? How does society define family? 52

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Questions for staff 1. How long have you worked at Urban Peak? 2. What is your role at Urban Peak? 3. Do you see clients creating families on the streets? If so how so, if not, tell me more about what you do see in regards to relationships between clients. 4. If you do see the process taking place, can you explain to me any of the negative or positive consequences clients receive from that family? 5. Do you think client's view you as part of their family? a. Why or why not? 6. Do you see yourself as part of a client's street family? a. If so, what role do you play within that family? For example, aunt/uncle/parent figure. If not, what role do you see yourself playing? For example, mentor/ teacher. b. What sort of expectations are included within your role? c. Do you think that both you and clients place you in the same role, or do you and the client see things differently? 53

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APPENDIX E E. RECRUITMENT FLYER 54