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Understanding Young People’s Navigation of Housing Barriers Through a White Supremacy Lens
Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal  (IF1.862),  Pub Date : 2021-11-10, DOI: 10.1007/s10560-021-00804-6
Boyett, Madi, Santarella, Marisa, Milligan, Tara, DeChants, Jonah, Williams, Omotola, Bender, Kimberly, Shelton, Jama, Chassman, Stephanie

The purpose of this study was to understand the organizational and structural barriers young people face in seeking housing and to interpret those barriers through the lens of white supremacy culture. Data were collected through semistructured interviews with 31 young people (ages 18–26) accessing a variety of homeless services, including a drop-in center, emergency shelter, and transitional housing apartments. White supremacy culture was used as an organizing framework for interpreting thematic findings. Participants described bureaucratic and systemic barriers to accessing and maintaining stable housing; lacking resources necessary to securing and maintaining housing; and rigid rules in community and living environments that created difficult in maintaining safe housing. Five tenets of white supremacy culture emerged as we applied the organizing framework to our findings: power hoarding, paternalism, worship of the written word, fear of open conflict, and right to comfort. Our findings reflect that organizations employing bureaucratic processes hold power to determine who can access housing, what is required of those young people, and how housing can be maintained. Yet, those holding the power at these decision points often do not reflect the identities of those benefiting from the services. Future research and critical analysis using a white supremacy framework or Critical Race Theory may allow for better understanding of barriers for young people experiencing homelessness.