Two pathways through adversity: Predicting well-being and housing outcomes among homeless service users

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Abstract

People who experience homelessness face many challenges and disadvantages that negatively impact health and well-being and form barriers to achieving stable housing. Further, people who are homeless often have limited social connections and support. Building on previous research that has shown the beneficial effect of group identification on health and well-being, the current study explores the relationship between two social identity processes – multiple group memberships and service identification – and well-being and positive housing outcomes. Measures were collected from 76 participants while they were residing in a homeless accommodation service (T1) and again 2–4 weeks after leaving the service (or 3 months after T1 if participants had not left the service). Mediation analyses revealed that multiple group memberships and service identification at T1 independently predicted well-being at T2 indirectly, via social support. Further, both social identity processes also indirectly predicted housing outcomes via social support. The implications of these findings are twofold. First, while belonging to multiple social groups may provide a pathway to gaining social support and well-being, group belonging may not necessarily be beneficial to achieve stable housing. Second, fostering identification with homeless services may be particularly important as a source of support that contributes to well-being.

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