Housing Instability in Atlanta and the Surrounding Area

This guide provides resources to assist with research & instruction that focuses on housing instability in Atlanta and the surrounding area.

Concept Exploration and Keyword Identification

In the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Adequate Housing (2000), the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights describes the experience of homelessness as "not having stable, safe and adequate housing, nor the means and ability of obtaining it." However, definitions and terminology relating to the concept of housing instability vary by region, time, and discipline. 

The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights also emphases that "reducing the matter to putting a roof over one’s head, would fail to take into account the loss of social connection — the feeling of 'belonging nowhere' — and the social exclusion experienced by persons living in homelessness."

In the Healthy People 2020 Social Determinants of Health archive, the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion states that housing instability "encompasses a number of challenges, such as having trouble paying rent, overcrowding, moving frequently, staying with relatives, or spending the bulk of household income on housing."

  • How do you define housing instability? And why?
  • What places, people, or policies impact/are impacted by housing instability?
  • How is housing instability addressed in and around Atlanta?

Try brainstorming some key terms for your search after you read the National Library of Medicine's lists of terminology relating to:

A research question is an essential way to narrow your focus and develop additional terminology. Consider:

  • Are you interested in how housing instability affects mental health?
  • Are you interested in how political leaning impacts policy on housing instability?
  • Are you interested in how housing instability impacts access to healthcare?
  • Are you interested in exploring who is impacted by housing instability and how?
  • Are you interested in perceptions relating to housing instability?
  • Are you curious about the long-term impact of housing instability during adolescence?
  • Are you curious about interventions for housing instability?

Searching for Scholarly Sources

1. Start by selecting terms that represent your core topic.

Try starting with: "homeless" or "housing." 

Variants on the term "homeless" include: "unsheltered persons," "unhoused persons," "homeless persons" and "homeless adults."
Variants on the term "housing" include: "affordable housing," "urban housing," and "housing needs." 

2. Then, narrow your scope by selecting terms that are specific to your research focus.

Examples might be: "homeless veterans," "housing policy," "public housing, or "red lining." 

You can consult a reference guide, like Homelessness in America: The History of an Intractable Social Problem (2022) by Stephen Eide. Chapter 1 explores the complex history of the term "homeless" to help you evaluate the terms you choose.

You can also consult a thesaurus or Wikipedia as well.

3. Now, combine terms into a developed search strategy.
  • Use quotations around phrases with two or more words. ex. "public housing"
  • Connect terms with either OR or AND.
    • Use OR to instruct the database to provide you with results relating to EITHER of the terms you enter. ex. rural OR suburban
    • Use AND to instruct the database to provide you only with results relating to BOTH of the terms you enter. ex. "public housing" AND employment.
  • Use parentheses to group related terms together. ex. ("homeless veterans" OR "homeless adults")
  • Use an asterisk to request results that include various forms of a root word. ex. homeless*
  • Use NOT to instruct the database to filter out specific terms. ex. (NOT "housing market")
4. Enter your search strategy into specific databases to request lists of resources relating to your topic.

Suggested databases can be found in the box below.

You might have to tweak your search terms slightly for different databases. For example, PubMed is a database that allows you to identify medical research topics using standardized MeSH terminology.

After you enter your search terms, review your results to determine:

  • Are they relevant to your research?
  • Do you need to broaden or narrow your scope?
  • Are your search terms appropriate for your research topic?
5. Finally, limit your results further by using the filters available in each database. Consider:
  • Should you narrow it by adding demographic terms, like age or gender?
  • Should you narrow it to a specific date range?
  • Should you narrow it to a specific location?
  • Should your sources come from only scholarly journals?
  • Do you to review want primary source accounts in addition to scholarship?
  • Should you limit it to sources in a specific language or format?
6. Review your results and contact your librarian for a follow-up research consultation.

Recommended Databases for Scholarly or Empirical Literature

Research by GSU Students & Faculty

ScholarWorks@GSU includes faculty publications as well as theses & dissertations on the topic of housing & homelessness. ScholarWorks  is an Open Access repository available for free, unrestricted, and online.

New Publications in ScholarWorks:

Selected Publications in ScholarWorks:
  • Arce, K. (2018). Predicting client housing outcomes from Georgia's homeless management information system with hierarchical generalized linear modeling. [Thesis, Georgia State University.] https://doi.org/10.57709/12047782
  • Cowan, B.A. (2007). Trauma exposure and behavioral outcomes in sheltered homeless children: The moderating role of perceived social support. [Dissertation, Georgia State University.] https://doi.org/10.57709/1059917
  • Crowe, L. (2012). Medical-surgical nurses' attitudes toward patients who are homeless: How attitudes develop and transform. [Dissertation, Georgia State University.] https://doi.org/10.57709/3042522
  • Holland, W.W. (2009).Who is my neighbor?: Framing Atlanta's movement to end homelessness, 1900-2005. [Dissertation, Georgia State University.] https://doi.org/10.57709/1229398 
  • McGrail, E., Tinker Sachs, G., Lewis Ellison, T., Dukes, N.D., & Zackery, K. (2018). "Homeless adults, technology and literacy practices." Journal of Literacy and Technology, 19(2), 50-98. http://www.literacyandtechnology.org/uploads/1/3/6/8/136889/jlt_v19_number_2_winter18_mcgrail_sachs_ellison_zackery.pdf
  • Parker, J.L. (2012). Self-concepts of homeless people in an urban setting: Processes and consequences of the stigmatized identity. [Dissertation, Georgia State University.] https://doi.org/10.57709/2766181
  • Tsukerman, K. (2019). How ties to professional support networks impact social outcomes among homeless youth. [Thesis, Georgia State University.] https://doi.org/10.57709/14278455
  • Wright, E., Attell, B.K., and Ruel, E. (2017). "Social support networks and the mental health of runaway and homeless youth." GHPC Articles, 140. https://scholarworks.gsu.edu/ghpc_articles/140
  • Wright, E., LaBoy, A., Turner, M., Forge, N., Wallace, C., Darkwa, A., Tsukerman, K., Webb, Z., Higbee, M., & Shelby, R. (2019). "Atlanta youth count 2018 community report: The prevalence of sex and labor trafficking among homeless youth in Metro Atlanta." Sociology Faculty Publications, 11..https://scholarworks.gsu.edu/sociology_facpub/11
  • Wright, E, Ruel, E, Fuoco, M.J, Trouteaud, A., Sanchez, T., LaBoy, A., Myers, H., Tsukerman, K., Vidmar, C., Gayman, M., Forge, N., Smalls-Glover, C., Anderson, C., & Hartinger-Saunders, R. (2016). "Atlanta youth count 2015: Homeless youth count and needs assessment." Sociology Faculty Publications, 12.  https://scholarworks.gsu.edu/sociology_facpub/12

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