Date Presented 04/22/2023

This study describes the perceptions of experts in transitioning from homelessness to housed in order to understand the supports and barriers during this process. The knowledge gained can be used to inform intervention and program development.

Primary Author and Speaker: Rachel Lifton

Additional Authors and Speakers: Deja Kerns, Hayley Greiner, Megan Helgesen, Laura Vanpuymbrouck

Significant energy and resources are committed towards the goal of ending homelessness by the city of Chicago (All Chicago, 2022). However, despite using evidenced-based best practices, the city’s current programming may not be effectively meeting the needs of its homeless community as they work to transition from homelessness to being housed (Quinn et al., 2018). The purpose of this study is to understand the supports and barriers that exist during transition to inform development of interventions or change in programing to better support successful transition. This study was grounded in principles of participatory action research (PAR), utilizing focus groups and individual interviews to gain insight into the prioritized concerns of the target community. Participants include individuals with lived experience of transition as well as housing organization support staff. This qualitative study explored participants’ perceptions and experiences of transitioning from homelessness to housed in order to: 1) identify and document the factors that support successful transition; and, 2) identify and document the homelessness factors that create barriers to successful transition based on experts who have been through the process. This presentation examines the over-arching themes that emerged from analysis of participants’ narratives. These are categorized into the primary supports and the primary barriers that experts in the lived experience of transitioning from homelessness to being housed experience in the city of Chicago’s programming. We will also describe the primary areas these experts identify as gaps to successful transition and how occupational therapy interventions can be used to target these. Transitioning from homelessness to permanent housing is identified by those that experience it as an extended process that demands knowledge, patience, and support from others. This knowledge can be used to support program development.


All Chicago. (2022). Data Highlights from the Chicago Homelessness Services System, 2021 Full Year. Retrieved March 11, 2022, from

Roy, L., Vallée, C., Kirsh, B. H., Marshall, C. A., Marval, R., & Low, A. (2017). Occupation-based practices and homelessness: A scoping review. Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy, 84(2), 98–110.

Quinn, K., Dickson-Gomez, J., Nowicki, K., Johnson, A. K., & Bendixen, A. V. (2018). Supportive housing for chronically homeless individuals: Challenges and opportunities for providers in Chicago, USA. Health & Social Care in the Community, 26(1), e31–e38.