Community And Well-Being: A Qualitative Study Of How Youth Experiencing Homelessness Define Community And Its Relations To Their Well-Being

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Journal of Community Psychology

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Prior research with youth experiencing homelessness suggests that community experiences can play an important role in their resilience and well‐being. This literature suggests that a sense of community (SOC) and social support may be two key interpersonal factors related to the well‐being of this population. However, quantitative research exploring these relationships has resulted in inconsistent findings, which may be due to a lack of understanding regarding youth's definitions of and experiences with community. This study utilized semistructured qualitative interviews with 24 youth experiencing homelessness to explore their definitions of community, how it is important to them, what communities they are a part of, and how these communities contribute to their well‐being. Overall, findings suggest that (a) youth generally define community in ways that align with current theory on SOC, (b) youth view community as important, and (c) their experiences within community settings promote their overall well‐being in various ways. However, the findings also suggest that community is not always a positive experience for these youth. This study has implications for how to promote the well‐being of youth experiencing homelessness, as well as how SOC and social support may relate to the well‐being of this population.


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