The New Face of Homelessness: A CRFT Project

Faculty involved: Vetta Sanders Thompson

As part of the first cohort of the Community Research Fellows Training (CRFT) program, fellows that completed the training and were certified to conduct research with human subjects were eligible to submit Community Based Participatory Research project proposals to conduct research on a community health issue of importance to them. Reverend Paulette Sankofa, Ed.D. and LaDoris Payne are alumni of the first cohort of CRFT were awarded funding for their research proposal entitled “The New Face of Homelessness” in collaboration with Dr. Vetta Thompson (CRFT faculty). The project focused on identifying the health needs and concerns of homeless women ages 45-64 living in the St. Louis metropolitan area. The research proposal received approval from Washington University School of Medicine’s Institutional Review Board in September 2014.

Between October and November 2014, 1 focus group with 6 formerly homeless women and 7 face-to-face interviews with currently homeless women between the ages of 46 to 62 years old were conducted.  In addition to the interview or focus group, the 13 women who participated in the study also completed a health survey. Participants were African American, white, and “other.” Most women had a high school diploma and three did not complete high school.  Most (69%) of the women reported needing dental insurance and 50% of the women reported having no health insurance. The women reported many health concerns including heart problems, troubles with breathing, stomach issues, trouble with their vision, and arthritis.  Many of the women had experienced mental health issues and domestic violence in addition to struggling with substance use issues.

Now that the study data have been collected, Ms. Payne and Noemi Lopez, MPH have coded the interview transcripts using a community-academic partnered approach. They identified main interview themes around the areas of how the women became homeless, their health, their current housing status, and barriers they face in improving their health due to being homeless. Rev. Sankofa, Ed.D. worked together with Dr. Vetta Thompson to present their findings at the Institute for Public Health’s Annual Conference in 2015.

  • Rev. Dr. Paulette Sankofa, Ed.D. was selected for a “Seniors Making A Difference” award, presented 10/1/2015 at the VILLAGE Symposium: Empowering Ourselves to Impact Our Diverse Community
  • The New Face of Homelessness (PDF)