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Journal of Community Psychology

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Homelessness -- Oregon -- Portland, Homelessness -- Social aspects -- Case Studies


Lack of safe and stable housing is a pernicious and growing social concern, and stereotypes about individuals experiencing houselessness are generally quite negative. Little scholarly work has examined housing insecurity and its associated stereotypes in employment contexts. The purpose of the current research was to examine, in the context of the hospitality industry, whether housing status influences hiring managers' perceptions of hireability (Study 1) and customers' evaluations of an organization and its employees (Study 2) using the stereotype content model. Across two experimental studies, we assessed participant attitudes toward individuals experiencing houselessness. In Study 1, we instructed 148 hotel managers to listen to a hypothetical job interview with either an unhoused or housed job applicant, and then complete measures of hireability. In Study 2, we instructed 139 hotel customers to observe a hypothetical interaction with either an unhoused or housed employee, and then evaluate the employee and the organization. Study 1's findings suggested an indirect effect of housing status on perceived hireability through warmth, and this indirect relationship was moderated by gender. Men who were houseless were rated lower in warmth, and thus lower in hireability, than non-houseless men or women regardless of their housing status. However, houseless men were perceived by customers as warmer than non-houseless men as employees, driving higher evaluations of the organization and the employee (Study 2). Hiring initiatives targeted at providing short-term housing for unhoused employees will benefit employees, employers, and the larger communities they encompass.


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