Navigating Systems: Homelessness 9/6/18

Sept 6 MacroSW Promo

For the September 6th Twitter chat, we will be talking about homelessness.

Homelessness has existed in societies in the U.S. and abroad for centuries. In the U.S., however, the size and scope of homelessness over the last 30-40 years is unprecedented. On a single night in January of 2017, more than 500,000 people were experiencing homelessness. In fact, in 2017, homelessness increased for the first time in seven years, driven primarily by increases in large city centers.

Following are some key statistics about homelessness in the U.S. according to the 2017 Annual Homelessness Assessment Report to Congress:

  • Most people (65%) were staying in a shelter or transitional living setting while the rest were living unsheltered, such as sleeping on streets, in parks, and in cars.
  • One-third (33%) of people experiencing homelessness did so as part of a family, and roughly one-fifth (21%) of people experiencing homelessness were children under the age of 18.
  • Most people (61%) experiencing homelessness were men, and less than 1% identified as a gender other than male or female. However, this number is higher among youth and young adults experiencing homelessness.
  • In terms of race and ethnicity, 47% identified as white, 41% identified as Black/African American, 7% identified as multiracial, and 22% identified as Hispanic or Latino.

In this chat, we’ll discuss the role of social work in ending homelessness by exploring the following questions.

Q1. How does ending homelessness fit within the social work Code of Ethics?

Q2. How do public perceptions of homelessness impact policy making and available services for people experiencing homelessness?

Q3. How do the systems social workers commonly work within or engage with (e.g., schools, hospitals, jails/prisons, child welfare, foster care) produce homelessness or increase the risk of homelessness?

Q4. How can the systems social workers commonly work within or engage with (e.g., schools, hospitals, jails/prisons, child welfare, foster care) help to prevent homelessness?

Q5. How can social workers improve community responses and social systems to prevent homelessness and better meet the needs of people experiencing homelessness?



Guest Expert – Amanda Aykanian (@aykanian)

Amanda is a doctoral candidate at the University at Albany School of Social Welfare. She is also a Research Associate at Advocates for Human Potential in Albany, NY and serves as the Research and Project Lead for the National Center for Excellence in Homeless Services. She has more than 10 years of experience in community-based process and outcome evaluations, with expertise in quantitative and qualitative research methodologies. Broadly, her research interests include program and policy implementation, service system dynamics, the criminalization of homelessness, and the mobility of people experiencing homelessness. Her most recent work focuses on exploring the relationship between service use and the geographic mobility of people experiencing homelessness.


Hosted by Chat Contributor, Alyssa Lotmore, LMSW – @AlyssaLotmore

Alyssa is employed at the University at Albany’s School of Social Welfare, where she earned her BSW and MSW degrees. In addition to her main role working with alumni, she has been co-hosting The Social Workers Radio Talk Show on the University’s FM radio station (WCBD 90.9 FM) since 2013 (Twitter – @socialworkersfm). Alyssa created the course Media Savvy Social Work, which allows students hands-on practice in using the medium of radio for advocacy. She has given multiple presentations on the topic, including at the National Association of Social Workers National Conference in Washington, DC. Through all of her projects, her focus is on seeing the public as client, and using different forms of media to reach individuals who may never has considered seeing or using a social worker. As social work professionals, she believes that we need to be media savvy in sharing our expertise and raising awareness about issues that we care about.


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