Date of Award

Spring 2024

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Communication & Theatre Arts


Lifespan and Digital Communication

Committee Director

Gary Beck

Committee Member

Thomas Socha

Committee Member

Danielle Jackson


On any given night in 2023, approximately 650,000 people were experiencing homelessness (HUD, 2023). With the highest rate of homelessness since national reporting began in 2007 and double the rate of chronic homelessness since 2016, it could be inferred that the resources are not effectively mitigating the problem (HUD, 2023). To attempt to understand this complex issue, this thesis initially reviewed theories on societal structures, personal connections, social support, and gaps in support. In person interviews of 14 people living with homelessness explored perceptions of support, social challenges, involvement in the community and lack of support. Following each interview, a digital survey explored support gaps between desired and received support.

Thematic analysis of interview data revealed that participants perceived support from distal, action-facilitating and peer support sources. The social challenges of experiencing homelessness were the unpredictability of others, emotional intensity of homelessness, and stigmatization. Participants were involved in the community by utilizing local resources, supporting the local economy and through their generational ties. Finally, participants reported lacking a compassionate community, aging and vulnerability care, companionship, beyond basic needs, recovery, and stability. The limited quantitative data complimented these qualitative findings by confirming support gaps across all forms of support, most notably tangible and emotional support.


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