Homeless people in general confront many difficulties that make their lives very challenging. However, when it comes to women experiencing homelessness, those challenges can threaten their well-being by increasing the risk of victimization and decreasing the levels of personal safety. This research project has three aims: first, to better understand the link between victimization and social and physical environment as it relates to homeless women; second, to recognize which aspects of the social and physical environment homeless women find threatening and difficult to overcome; and third, to examine the areas of conflict within the coexistence of homeless women in a mixed-gender transitional shelter. This study is based on a mixed-method approach. The data are drawn from ten in-depth interviews and secondary survey data collected by Ozanam Manor, a faith-based agency. The qualitative analysis uses a naturalistic perspective to study homeless women in their living settings in a transitional shelter and provides a rich, contextualized understanding of homeless women’s perception of risk. For the quantitative analysis, we also analyzed secondary survey data collected by Ozanam Manor and used correlation analyses to understand the relationship between social environments and respondents’ safety perceptions. Our findings reported that the lives of the participants were not characterized by a unique challenge, but rather by a combination of interconnected challenges that perpetuated their situations of homelessness.

Note on the Author

Lucy Alimamy, Anastasia Murphy, and Nicole Munoz Ordonez worked under the mentorship of Dr. Francisco Alatorre (Criminal Justice) and Dr. Luzi Shi (Criminal Justice). Paulina Aguilar Delgado was a peer mentor on the project. Their research was completed during the Summer of 2022 with funding from an Adrian Tinsley Program summer research grant.

Lucy graduated in May 2023 with a degree in Criminal Justice and is starting her master's in criminal justice at BSU. In the future, Lucy plans to practice law and represent sexual assault victims and immigrants.

Anastasia graduated in December 2022 with a degree in Criminal Justice. She is dedicated to a career of helping people in need.

Nicole is a senior majoring in Criminal Justice at Bridgewater State University. She is deeply passionate about social justice issues and plans to attend law school in the future so that she can be a voice for those without a voice.

Paulina conducted research with Dr. Francisco Alatorre for most of her four years at BSU, before graduating in May 2023. She will be attending law school at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth in the Fall of 2023. Thanks to her research, Paulina realized the need for advocates for vulnerable populations, and she hopes to become one.

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