Date of Award

Spring 2021

Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Education, PhD

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Deborah F Carter

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Eligio Martinez

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

David Drew

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Housing Insecurity


The purpose of this study was to understand how students navigate housing insecurity during their postsecondary experience. Emerging as a recent topic in scholarly discussion, how students address housing affordability and accessibility highlights an important discussion surrounding college opportunity. Qualitative interviews with 20 postsecondary alumni were conducted in a large public research institution in the United States. Through a resilience framework, this study explored how students navigated their housing challenges by leveraging internal and external factors. Housing challenges included living in overcrowded spaces, moving frequently, working significant hours, and reducing monthly expenses such as groceries to ensure housing affordability. The impact of these strategies increased a student's anxiety, negatively affecting their personal well-being and at times their academics. Despite these challenges, participants showed a strong resolve to persevere toward college completion. Themes of self-efficacy (internal) and supportive relationships (external) were important motivators to persist toward college completion in spite of housing challenges and barriers. Each participant was determined to overcome the stigma associated with their housing challenges to increase the social mobility of their family and counter stereotypes associated with being a low-income, minority, or first-generation college student. However, due to the negative perceptions associated with housing insecurity, participants would not disclose the extent of their housing challenges with campus stakeholders. Isolation from these experiences decreased a student's sense of belonging and established a belief that the institution could not provide support to address their housing challenges. Implications for policy, practice, and future research include reassessing financial aid packages, developing direct support offices on campus, and additional opportunities to examine housing insecurity from an identity-based lens.