Date of Award

Spring 2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Public Administration (DPA)


Public Policy and Administration

Committee Chairperson

Kristen Crossney, PhD

Committee Member

Michelle Wade, PhD

Committee Member

Allison Turner, PhD


Homelessness is a challenging, chronic public problem throughout the United States that has broad impacts on the public sector. Older adults are the largest growing segment of the population and have not been spared by this housing crisis. The experience of homelessness while aging can have negative impacts that contribute to increased healthcare costs and reduced quality of life. The purpose of this study was to gain an in-depth understanding of the lived experience of late life homelessness from the perspective of formerly homeless older adults to inform the development of a grounded theory on how the lived experience of homelessness in later life impacts the aging experience, health outcomes, and social connections. This qualitative study collected data through semi-structured individual interviews with formerly homeless older adults. Through grounded theory methodology, several themes emerged from the data analysis that contribute to an understanding of late life homelessness. Major themes that emerged from the data include challenges and complexity of late life homelessness requires internal strength and resiliency, late life homelessness as a precursor for long term mental health issues, role of social connectivity and homelessness, generational social roles among the homeless, and homelessness as a contributor to loss of independence and autonomy in late life. The findings of this study shed light on multiple aspects of the lived experience and can serve to inform the development of integrated housing and aging services policies that target the prevention and reduction of the negative consequences associated with late life homelessness.