First Advisor

Greg Townley

Term of Graduation

Spring 2021

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Applied Psychology






Homeless youth -- Psychology, Homelessness -- Psychological aspects, Communities -- Social aspects, Well-being, COVID-19 Pandemic (2020- )



Physical Description

1 online resource (viii, 240 pages)


The current dissertation presents two published empirical studies and one new study informed by the findings and recommendations of the first two. The first study investigated how intrapersonal factors (self-esteem, psychological distress, and optimism) and social-contextual factors (social support, sense of community, and empowerment) relate to the psychological well-being of 100 youth experiencing homelessness. The results indicated that all six variables were significantly related to well-being, but the intrapersonal factors had a stronger association with psychological well-being than the social-contextual factors. The second manuscript is a qualitative study investigating what community means to youth experiencing homelessness, what communities they are a part of, and how these communities contribute to their well-being. This study found that 1) youth generally define community in ways that align with current theory on sense of community, 2) youth view community as important, and 3) their experiences within community settings promote their overall well-being in a variety of ways. However, the findings also suggest that community is not always a positive experience for these youth. The third manuscript is a qualitative study undertaking a more detailed and contextualized exploration of community supports and well-being among youth experiencing homelessness. This study centered the perspectives and lived experiences of youth and engaged them in reflection on how their community supports and well-being might impact their short- and long-term goals. Further, this study explored how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted well-being and community supports among youth. Findings from the final study have the potential to inform future research aimed at supporting the well-being and needs of youth experiencing homelessness.


© 2021 Katricia Stewart

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Persistent Identifier

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