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    Location, Location, Location: Perceptions of Safety and Security Among Formerly Homeless Persons Transitioned to Permanent Supportive Housing

    Journal of the Society for Social Work & Research

    Year: 2016

    Objective: Low perceived safety and security might have adverse health consequences, especially for chronically homeless individuals who are at high risk of victimization on the street. Permanent supportive housing (PSH) is an effective strategy to address chronic homelessness and improve residents’ health and well-being. However, it is unclear how formerly homeless individuals’ perceptions of safety and security reflect the objective neighborhood environment in which the PSH is located. This article presents a study of the perceived safety and security of formerly homeless individuals transitioned to PSH in and around Skid Row. Method: This mixed-method study examines the perceptions of safety and security of 24 PSH residents living in the Skid Row area of Los Angeles. Subsequent block-based neighborhood observations were conducted informed by these qualitative findings. Results: Although participants felt safer relative to when they were homeless, residents living within Skid Row felt less safe than those who lived at the periphery. Participants housed within Skid Row also reported social isolation and exposure to situations reminiscent of past traumatic events. These findings correspond with objective neighborhood environmental differences in which more trash, malodors, and homeless people were observed on the blocks located near the center of Skid Row. Conclusions: Homeless individuals might experience an increase in their perceived safety after transitioning into PSH, but these perceptions might be contingent on the neighborhood environment. Future research should investigate how neighborhood characteristics influence perceived safety and whether these perceptions are influenced by the characteristics of the physical surrounding environment and/or past experiences of trauma.

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