What is this research about?
Youth face significant hurdles when they transition from homelessness to housing, including discrimination, a lack of safety, poverty, and significant disconnection from others. The COVID-19 pandemic magnified and intensified these issues. While many people felt isolated during the pandemic, this was especially exacerbated for young women and gender-diverse youth, who were already the loneliest demographic.
Social integration is crucial for people being able to maintain housing long-term. Social integration and belonging differ for different youth, and there is little research on what creating a sense of connection looks like specifically for young women and gender-diverse people.
Thus, this study aims to understand how to support young women and gender-diverse people to feel connected once housed and ensure that a sense of belonging is prioritized to maintain housing stability.
What did the researchers do?
Researchers collected data in three phases. First, the researchers interviewed 22 young women and gender-diverse youth about their transitions to housing and their experiences of loneliness.
Second, 20 of those participants kept a journal for a week. Participants logged moments of isolation, connection, loneliness, and belonging during that time. Another interview was then conducted with participants reflecting on the journal.
Third, the lived expert research team members developed and led a series of eight virtual workshops with young women and gender-diverse youth. These were solution-oriented workshops looking to make sense of the research findings and what to do about them.
The researchers also interviewed 12 support people – both formal service providers and informal support people – about the challenges and opportunities of providing service and support to young women and gender-diverse youth during the pandemic.
What did the researchers find?