Date of Award


Degree Name

PhD Nursing

Dissertation Committee

Diane C. Hatton, DNSc, RN, APRN, BC, Chair; Kathy Shadle James, DNSc, RN, CNP; Mary Woods Scherr, PhD


children & youth, families & family life, homelessness, independent living, nursing, transitional housing, women


Family homelessness is one of the most profound and disturbing social problems of the 21st century and is projected to remain an ongoing issue for the United States in upcoming years. The fastest growing segment in the homeless population continues to be families, specifically single women with children. One intervention to the problem of homeless women with children is by providing them with transitional housing, a step beyond the familiar short-term emergency shelter. Transitional housing typically shelters families for up to 2 years. During this extended stay, women participate in programs designed to assist them with addiction, mental health, domestic violence, parenting skills, nutrition, employment, and gaining the independent skills necessary to transition their families to stable living. The purpose of this grounded theory study was to explore the transition process by which formerly homeless women residing in a transitional shelter acquired stable housing. The aims of this study were to identify factors that impacted the transition, identify support structures, skills, and knowledge necessary during the transition, and to explore how this experience influenced their health. Data were collected through semi-structured interviews with a sample of 29 women who participated in one shelter program within the past 3 years. Dimensional analysis, an approach to the generation of grounded theory, was used to guide the investigation of the transition process of formerly homeless women from shelter to stable housing. Findings revealed a substantive explanation of how internal and external factors shape the transition process. A core dimension of creating a better life emerged as these women moved through phases of homelessness toward independent living. Phases included a turning point-lifestyle and homelessness before the shelter (context), reality check¬ evaluating their lives and their decision to enter the shelter (conditions), taking responsibility-working the shelter program and making changes (processes/actions), and taking the life skills-leaving the shelter for independent living (consequences). This study provides fundamental knowledge and an understanding of the transition process from the perspective of homeless women and identifies factors that influenced their ability to move to stable housing. Implications for future research, education, practice and policy are suggested.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access



Included in

Nursing Commons