Solidarity and connection: manifestations of social capital among consumers of supportive housing

Brad Forenza, Liam Reilly, Carrie Bergeson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Supportive housing provides free/reduced-rent and regular access to helping professionals for consumers experiencing, or at risk of experiencing, homelessness. While extant research has explored aspects of consumer social networks, less research has explored consumer social networks derived through the actual housing experience. Through focus groups and in-depth interviews with 34 consumers of a robust housing program, this study attempted to answer the question, “What are the lived, relational experiences of supportive housing consumers, as derived through supportive housing itself?” Directed content analysis and three domains of social capital (bonding, linking, and bridging) helped identify seven emergent themes (idyllic communities, mutual support, communities of circumstance, generalized distrust, independence, empowerment, and volunteerism). Implications include the following: (1) the need for policymakers to invest more resources into homelessness prevention for populations like foster care alumni and adults with serious mental illness, (2) the need for practitioners to respect supportive housing spaces and the roles that consumers play for each other, and (3) the need for future research to explore the long-term tangible and intangible outcomes of supportive housing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)169-182
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Progressive Human Services
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2 Sep 2019


  • Foster care
  • housing first
  • serious mental illness
  • social capital
  • supportive housing


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