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Document Type

Dissertation - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Graduate Nursing

First Advisor

Thomas Stenvig


homelessness, single mothers, grounded theory, transitional housing


For the past 10 years, homeless families have been the fastest growing segment of the homeless population. A typical homeless family is a single mother with her children. Lack of affordable housing, living in poverty, physical and mental illness, abuse, and living without housing, support, and trusting relationships are contributing factors and causes to homelessness for women. Transitional housing programs are one avenue out of homelessness. Transitional housing programs typically require a stay of one to two years in order to assist families to make the transition from homelessness to self-sufficiency. A constructivist grounded theory approach was utilized to understand this transitional process. Through a process of constant comparative analysis, purposive theoretical sampling, and memo writing, a theory was constructed to describe the process of transitioning from homelessness for single mothers living in transitional housing programs in the Midwest. The process entitled, Discovering Who I Am and Who I Want to be as a Woman and Mother consists of four phases: (a) acknowledging desire to change for self and for children, (b) feeling relief yet apprehension, (c) taking care of basic needs amidst difficulties, and (e) learning about self and role as mother. The outcome of this transition is change in self and change in role as a mother.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Homeless mothers
Single mothers
Shelters for the homeless


Includes bibliographical references (163-176)



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


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