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Preview: Journal of Community Psychology

Journal of Community Psychology

Wiley Online Library : Journal of Community Psychology

Published: 2017-09-01T00:00:00-05:00


A quasi-experimental evaluation of rent assistance for individuals experiencing chronic homelessness


This study investigated the effectiveness of the addition of rent assistance to existing housing and support services in the Waterloo region of Ontario for people experiencing chronic homelessness. A nonequivalent comparison group design was used to compare the outcomes between (a) participants selected to receive rent assistance plus support services (n = 26) and (b) participants receiving support services only (n = 25). Participants were interviewed at baseline and 6 months later. Participants in the rent assistance condition showed significantly greater improvements over time relative to the comparison group in housing stability and quality of life. They also demonstrated significantly better perceived housing quality, and there were trends of greater improvement in community functioning, social support, and food security. The findings demonstrate that rent assistance is associated with superior program outcomes for people experiencing chronic homelessness and is a necessary component of supported housing models, such as Housing First.

A longitudinal examination of perceived racial/ethnic discrimination, public ethnic regard, and depressive symptoms in Latino youth


This longitudinal study examined the role of perceived racial/ethnic discrimination and public ethnic regard on depressive symptoms in an adolescent Latino sample (n = 141) living in an emerging immigrant community. Using a cross lagged model, this study found that Time 1 (T1) discrimination did not predict T2 depressive symptoms, nor did depressive symptoms predict T2 discrimination. However, public ethnic regard served as a significant moderator of the longitudinal association of discrimination. For youth who reported high public ethnic regard and high racial/ethnic discrimination at T1, they reported greater discrimination at T2 compared to those who reported low public ethnic regard. These findings suggest that an internalized positive perception of the public's view of one's ethnic group is a potential vulnerability factor that needs to be better understood. These findings imply the need for additional research on the unique role of public ethnic regard in emerging immigrant communities.

Children's experiences and perceptions of street culture, parental supervision, and parental mediation in an urban neighborhood


Local street cultures may appear more or less “extreme,” depending on several contextual factors. Using focus groups, the current study aimed to explore what children, aged 7 to 12 years, think of the assumption that parents play an important role on the street to increase safety in the public domain. Involvement of parents can either be helpful or contribute to escalation of the conflict. Children's biggest concern was that parents are not able to be neutral or that children did not know the parent who intervened. They can imagine intervening being helpful when the intervening parents are known and trusted. We expect that when the public environment is safe and social cohesion is strong, the amount of conflicts will reduce and the help of parents will be generally accepted. We expect that increasing public familiarity and strengthening social control in disadvantaged neighborhoods can further limit the negative influences of street culture.

Understanding the influence of resilience for people with a lived experience of mental illness: A self-determination theory perspective


Behaviors associated with resilience can be seen as tantamount to coping with stress and vulnerability. This is important for people who live with mental illness. This study aimed to determine whether key basic psychological needs influence resilience among people with a lived experience of mental illness. A total of 159 consumers with a lived experience of mental illness completed self-report surveys measuring resilience and the basic psychological needs (autonomy, competence, and relatedness) espoused in self-determination theory. A 2-step analysis was conducted, including Pearson product correlations and stepwise multiple regression. Higher levels of relatedness significantly predicted resilience. Competence and autonomy did not have a significant influence on resilience. Reconnecting or establishing social relationships within ones community is important for people living with mental illness. The link between resilience and relatedness ought to be considered in treatment plans.

Resident characteristics and neighborhood environments on health-related quality of life and stress


Relatively little research has attempted to disentangle the individual and neighborhood conditions underlying health disparities. To address this, survey data were collected from 1,107 residents living in one of the 114 census tracts. Results from a multilevel structural equation model found an individual's perceptions of the social and built environment were significantly associated with their current physical health, mental health, and perceived stress. Associations between household income and poor physical health were more pronounced for participants who lived in low-income neighborhoods compared to participants who lived in high-income neighborhoods. Additionally, Black residents reported significantly better mental health than White residents when they lived in high-income neighborhoods, while Black residents who lived in low-income neighborhoods reported significantly more stress than White residents in low-income neighborhoods. Results of this study advance scientific understanding of social determinants of health and may aid in the development of programs and policies.

Impact of trauma exposure and acculturative stress on internalizing symptoms for recently arrived migrant-origin youth: Results from a community-based partnership


Migrant youth face cultural challenges upon initial adjustment into the United States. Although there is considerable empirical evidence that trauma impacts interpersonal relations, there is a dearth of research examining the association between adverse events and the initial social and cultural exchange experience, and whether this is associated with psychological adjustment. This study examined self-report data for 87 newly arrived migrant-origin students in Grades 5–10 from Latin American, Caribbean, Asian, and African backgrounds attending a public alternative school in the Southeastern United States. Data were collected as part of a community-based partnership. The relation between cumulative trauma exposure and internalizing symptoms was fully mediated by acculturative stress (p < .05), suggesting prior trauma exposure negatively affected these students’ capacity to navigate a new cultural milieu, which in turn is directly associated with internalizing symptoms. Behavioral health care practitioners can use screening procedures early in the academic year to detect which migrant students may be experiencing difficult cultural transitions.



Experiences of oppression, liberation, and well-being among Moroccans in Andalusia


This qualitative study explores the settlement experiences of Moroccan migrants living in Andalusia (southern Spain). Taking a liberation psychology approach, we focus on the roles that power relations, oppression, well-being, and liberation play in the newcomers’ adaptation to the host country from a sociopolitical point of view. Based on grounded theory, we analyze the narratives of 28 Moroccan migrants across two different contexts within Andalusia; 15 participated in in-depth interviews and 13 in 2 separate focus groups. A series of theoretical propositions emerged from the analysis, taking into account (a) conditions of oppression, (b) responses to conditions of oppression, and (c) the well-being continuum. These interrelated dimensions were found to shape different migration trajectories, leading to either maintaining the unjust living conditions or choosing to confront them. In the latter case, migrants actively engaged in transformative civic actions promoting social justice and symmetrical power relations between the migrant and native-born populations. The main contribution of this study is to value migrants by defining their migratory experiences and how, in their view, the liberation process is achieved.

Waiting for shelter: Perspectives on a homeless shelter's procedures


Research on homeless shelter implementation is limited. Some shelters have lengthy waitlists, which raises important questions about implications of waitlists for individuals with immediate shelter needs. This study used qualitative methods to understand the experiences of shelter seekers who were on a shelter waitlist (N = 59), including individuals who entered the shelter from the waitlist, and those removed from the shelter waitlist for procedural reasons. The average waitlist time was nearly 3 weeks, and 22.0% stayed at least one night on the street or another public place while on the waitlist. Responses to open-ended questions regarding barriers and effectiveness of the shelter referral procedures revealed 4 themes: procedural challenges, procedural benefits, benefits of the temporary stay, and communication challenges. Further research is needed to inform shelter implementation on a larger scale in accordance with current community-wide efforts to coordinate shelter services.

Place-based loss and resilience among disaster-affected youth


As research on young people's disaster experiences is accumulating, one important yet understudied factor underlying their vulnerability and resilience is their connection to certain places. Youth affected by the 2013 floods in Southern Alberta, Canada, provided photographs of places important to their flood experiences and engaged in peer-to-peer interviews to discuss place loss and place-based strength. Damaged or changed places disrupted youth's reliance on place for activities, resources, social ties, sense of continuity, and a connection to the past. Places provided strength when they offered escape from the postdisaster chaos, enabled youth to contribute to recovery, supported physical and psychological need satisfaction, and symbolized strength, renewal, or hope. These findings demonstrate the relevance of place to youth's disaster experiences and inform future qualitative and quantitative work in this area.

Determinants of the use of community-based mental health services after mobile crisis team services: An empirical approach using the Cox proportional hazard model


It is crucial for people to have an immediate link to community-based mental health services (CMHSs) after psychiatric crisis. This study aims to identify the determinants of people's use of CMHSs after Mobile Crisis Team (MCT) intervention. This study integrated four local administrative records and selected 1,771 adults who received MCT intervention in 2008. The authors measured the length between the last day of crisis period and the first date of using CMHSs and used the Cox proportional hazard model to estimate its predictors. Of the sample, 44.2% used CMHSs within 30 days after MCT intervention. Cox proportional hazards model identifies predictors of using CMHSs such as clients’ diagnosis, substance abuse issues, treatment history, and the interventions during the crisis period. The findings reconfirm the vital roles of MCT intervention such as linking resources and referral services. Because this study simultaneously observes the process and postphase of psychiatric crisis intervention, its findings not only assist in improving interventions for people with psychiatric crisis but also support social policy and programs that strengthen the continuum of care.

How do homeless adults change their lives after completing an intensive job-skills program? A prospective study


Among people experiencing homelessness, difficulty securing housing is often compounded by concurrent challenges including unemployment, chronic illness, criminal justice involvement, and victimization. The Moving Ahead Program (MAP) is a vocational rehabilitation program that seeks to help adults facing these challenges secure competitive employment. We prospectively studied how MAP graduates (N = 97) changed from the beginning of MAP to about 6 months after graduation. We observed a variety of positive outcomes in not just employment and housing but also health, substance use, and criminal justice involvement. However, these gains were not universal; for instance, participants were less likely to report positive outcomes at follow-up if they started MAP with a serious mental illness, made relatively small gains in work skills, or did not seek mental health treatment during the 6 months after they completed MAP. These findings might encourage program staff to devote additional resources toward supporting at-risk students.

How to support me in connected learning: Youth perspectives on adult supportive behavior and its benefits


This study examined the various ways adults engage and support youth in connected learning settings, which are focused on supporting youth in their interests or passions. Youth from 5 Chicago community-based, out-of-school time (OST) programs participated in focus groups on the topic of adult–youth relationships. Participants reported characteristics and behaviors of supportive adults as well as the outcomes associated with those behaviors. Analyses revealed that the following characteristics of adults enabled engagement and relationship development: (a) mutual respect, (b) genuine interest, (c) ongoing communication and friendship, and (d) going above and beyond. Youth also identified the specific ways that adults supported them: (a) guidance and motivation, (b) skill-based support, (c) role modeling, (d) connecting, (e) emotional support, and (f) cultivating youth voice. Finally, participants reported the following outcomes related to such support: (a) social capital, (b) a sense of empowerment and control of their futures, and (c) a sense of acceptance and validation. This study is a contribution to the literature on adult–youth relationships in connected learning sites and draws attention to the potential socioemotional and instructional benefits of such programs. Our study also highlights the various ways that adults in OST programs can successfully engage youth and form relationships.

Different actions for different crimes: Explaining individual action in local crime problems


The crime prevention literature finds extensive support for crime-specific approaches to organized interventions in crime problems. Yet within the communities and crime literature, little is known about the crime-specific (or generalized) way that individuals respond to different types of crime problems in their neighborhood. Using data from the Australian Community Capacity Study, this paper examines how individual characteristics, perceptions of agents of formal social control, and perceptions of informal community processes influence the decision a person makes to do something about different types of local crime problems. Results indicate that individual characteristics (prior police contact and previous victimization) and positive perceptions of informal community processes (frequency of neighboring) are positively associated with action; yet when people perceive agents of formal social control as effective, they are less likely to take informal crime control action. We conclude that the mechanisms that prompt community action are best understood from a crime-specific approach.

Perceptions of social disorder in public spaces in a disadvantaged neighborhood: The example of Cologne-Chorweiler


Residents of segregated neighborhoods perceive social disorder in their neighborhoods differently. Starting from the broken-windows theory and the social organization approach, the paper develops a deeper understanding of the role of place for the perception of social disorder. Participant structural observations were conducted, along with a photo survey and collection of ethnographic data about six locations within the studied neighborhood. Comparison of perceptions of the locations and social practices within them shows that social disorder is perceived not by residents who live directly at the location, but by others. This pattern is independent of the type and intensity of social disorder observed.

Toxic trauma: Household water quality experiences predict posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms during the Flint, Michigan, water crisis


We examined the relationship between perceptions of household tap water quality and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms during the Flint, Michigan, water crisis in 2015–2016. The Speak to Your Health Community Survey is a community-based participatory component of the health surveillance system in Genesee County, Michigan. Perceptions of household tap water quality was added to the 2015–2016 survey wave after inadequate official response to concerns over water quality after a change in Flint's municipal water supply. Respondents (N = 786) also completed a brief PTSD screening tool. We examined the relationships of perceived household tap water quality to PTSD symptomatology and positive screening criteria for PTSD, controlling for sociodemographics. Perceived tap water quality predicted PTSD symptomatology and positive screening criteria for PTSD, independent of sociodemographics. The adverse mental health impact of municipal toxic contamination may generalize to other similar environmental contamination incidents.