Understanding how engagement in a self-managed shelter contributes to empowerment

Max A. Huber, Louis D. Brown, Rosalie N. Metze, Martin Stam, Tineke A Abma, Tine van Regenmortel, Tineke N. Abma

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Abstract

Participant empowerment is a foundational goal of selforganised
homeless care. We aim to understand how a selforganised
setting contributes to participants' empowerment.
The data we analysed (56 interviews, both open and semistructured)
were generated in a longitudinal participatory
case study into Je Eigen Stek (Your own place, JES), a lowcost
shelter for people experiencing homelessness in the
Netherlands. JES participants experienced the freedom of
choice and influence on their living environment. JES' fluid
structure allowed participants to adapt the program to their
desires and needs, though participants were sometimes aspects to be either enabling or entrapping. We found some
aspects (e.g., size, freedom of choice) could be entrapping or
enabling, depending on personal factors. Our analysis revealed
individual freedom of choice, balancing freedom of choice
with support, offering opportunities for engagement and
maintaining fluidity in program management as core aspects
of how JES contributed to participants' empowerment.
negative about having to live together. Most participants
preferred JES over regular shelters. Unlike empowerment
literature, participants mostly emphasised freedom of choice
over capacity development. JES offered opportunities for
social and organisational engagement, through which participants
developed roles, skills and self-image. However, a
limited number of participants developed leadership roles
through self-management. Literature suggests setting
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)516-529
Journaljournal of applied community and social psychology
Volume30
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2020

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