PROF, AST -
Homelessness continues to be a pervasive public health and social justice issue across the nation. Unfortunately, some of the greatest needs of the homeless are not met through traditional resources and agencies, given limited resources and the focus on immediate needs such as food and shelter. One pressing—and often unmet—need of the homeless is transportation. Access to reliable transportation is crucial to homeless individuals who must seek shelter, employment, and medical services, all while maintaining relationships with loved ones. The specific aim of the proposed study is to determine the bicycle’s impact on physical health, access to health care, self-esteem, social capital, and employment.
In order to explore these outcomes, in-depth, open-ended interviews were conducted with 10 homeless men who graduated from the earn-a-bike program offered through a local homeless outreach agency or otherwise acquired a bike while experiencing homelessness. The interviews were recorded, transcribed, and analyzed using NVivo software.
Initial study findings suggest that homeless men experience several positive impacts from owning a bicycle and value the independence they gained. Maintaining employment, strengthened relationships, improved health and fitness, and increased self-confidence emerged as important outcomes for homeless men who are bike owners. New unresolved challenges included bike theft and lack of secure parking and storage.
This study provided insight in into a cost-effective and sustainable intervention to improve transportation, employment, perceived health, connection to loved ones, and self-confidence in homeless men. Findings also highlighted challenges, some that can be mitigated by providing bike locks.
Feb 20, 2018
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