Chapter 1THE PROBLEM AND ITS BACKGROUND1.1 IntroductionThe global homeless population, according to the United Nations the last time it conducted a global survey in 2005, was approximately 100 million people, with as many as 1 billion people lacking adequate housing (UN, 2005).
In the Philippines, high rates of population growth and migration to urban areas make the provision a adequate land and housing difficult. It is estimated that a fifth of the population live below the national poverty line (PSA, 2015). The capital, Manila, has the largest homeless population of any city in the world with 3.1 million (UN, 2008). An estimated 1.2 million children in the Philippines are also homeless, with 70,000 in Manila (Homeless World Cup Foundation). The country is burdened with a huge backlog of housing for the poor. According to the HUDCC, the country’s housing needs reached more than 3.
7 million in 2010. In the NCR alone, the total backlog is estimated at 500,000 units (HUDCC). Based on the 2016 Housing Need Study of HUDCC, housing needs from 2017-2022 are projected to be around 6.5 million units, and efforts to address this are seemingly not enough as the country had a 1.2 million backlog in 2016 alone (PSRTI). The highest concentration of housing demand is in the regions of Southern Tagalog, Metro Manila, and Central Luzon, who collectively account for 56% of demand, while Visayas and Mindanao account for 21% and 23% of the total demand for housing, respectively (UN-Habitat Country Programme Document 2008-2009 – Philippines).
To address the country’s housing concerns, there are several national agencies which are organized under the Office of the Vice President. These are the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB), Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC), National Housing Authority (NHA), and the Home Development Mutual Fund (HDMF), also known as the Pag-IBIG fund. The Urban Development and Housing Act (UDHA) of 1992 or RA 7279 mandated local government units (LGUs) to address urban development issues. However, meeting the requirement of RA 7279 which is the provision of affordable social housing for the urban poor near employment opportunities proves to be difficult as the construction of the socialized housings was often done off-site and far from the urban center (philippines-national-urban-assessment). With this, the provision of social and affordable housing in urban areas remain inadequate.Because the provision of affordable housing failed to keep up with rapid urban growth, more than 40% of urban families have to live in makeshift dwellings in informal settlements (ADB).
The urban poor generally do not have adequate access to a safe water supply, proper sanitation, proper waste disposal, and suffer from poor-quality housing and high risks to public health. As early as 2014, the National Housing Authority (NHA), the building arm of the government and responsible for the construction of social housings in the country, began the construction of housing units in resettlement sites. Most of the houses were already completed by 2015, but were never claimed by the intended AFP and PNP beneficiaries. On March 8, 2016, around 5,000 members of the progressive group “Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap” or Kadamay, occupied around 4,000 idle housing units in resettlement sites in Pandi Residences 3, Pandi Village 2, and Padre Pio in Pandi, Bulacan.
On March 13, another group of around 500 people from Kadamay occupied 400 units of the Atlantica Realty in Pandi, Bulacan. The occupants were a diverse group made up of mostly urban poor and homeless from Pandi and other neighbouring towns.1.2 Statement of the ProblemHousing plays several key roles in the survival strategies of the poor. It provides them with protection, economic stability, and can be used as a source of income (UMP). Above all, housing or shelter is a basic need, it protects people from natural elements such as weather, and therefore lessens the risk of sickness. The quality of health is directly affected by the quality of housing. In an analysis by Solon (1991), better housing characteristics (roofing and flooring material, interior space, public amenities) have been shown to improve the health status of children.
The urban poor need quality shelter more so than the non-poor, as they suffer the most from degradation of the environment (Stren & Gombay, 1994). The poor are often forced to live on land in risk of flooding, erosion, pollution, and land that can be most affected by earthquakes and storms. Furthermore, those who live in cramped spaces, and lack access to proper sanitation are directly exposed to water and soil pollution. They are also affected by pollution caused by fires or the sheer amount of fumes generated by vehicles. Becoming homeless can already be traumatic, factor in the physical, mental, and economic effects losing one’s home brings about to the individual, it can potentially affect their ability to function properly. A parent heading a family going through homelessness experiences more challenges and burdens as they try to fulfill the multiple roles within the family. This is the same for the children too. Role disruptions are not uncommon in homeless families (Lindsey 1998), some parents in some cases experience a diminished role in leading the family as their children take on their parenting roles.
The multiple effects of homelessness can affect the family member’s ability to fulfill their roles properly, and can potentially bring about a change in the relationships and roles within the family. The experience of homelessness is already a cause for alarm, and can lead a family into a crisis (Johnson, 1989), which needs immediate response and has implications for social work practice, specifically interventions. The results of this study can potentially help in developing models and approaches to families experiencing or recovering from homelessness, and take into consideration that families can undergo significant changes in roles and relationships which the Social Worker should be aware of. 1.3 Scope and Limitations of the StudyThe target participants of this study will be mothers from the occupants of the Atlantica Realty in Pandi, Bulacan. Mothers were chosen because due to the fact that they spend more time in their homes, caring for their children and looking after the community, than their husbands or most of the men, who leave the housing sites to work.1.
4 Significance of the StudyThe purpose of this study is to know mothers’ perceptions of how homelessness and shelter life affect relationships in mother-headed families. The perceptions of these mothers can provide valuable information for shelter staff and other service providers about how to maintain the integrity of family relationships as parents attempt to resolve their housing crises. Most research into the impact of homelessness on family relationships has relied on observations of researchers and service providers and data from psychological or psychiatric tests, from which researchers have derived implications for parent-child relationships. Although some of these studies involved homeless mothers, they were not directly focused on mothers’ perceptions of the impact of homelessness and shelter life on their family relationships.
If family-friendly services are to be developed, it is imperative that parents’ experiences be taken into account. This study extends the existing research by systematically studying mothers’ perceptions of the effect of homelessness and shelter life on family relations.The results of this study can be used developing intervention programs designed for the specific problems and needs of mother-headed families. If specific intervention programs are to be developed, it is important that the experiences of the parents be known..
This study extends the existing research by studying homeless mothers’ perceptions of the effect of homelessness on family relationships.1.5 Definition of TermsChapter 2REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE AND STUDIES2.1 Related LiteratureHomelessness brings about multiple physical, emotional, and psychological effects on different people and can be characterized by social detachment, lack of psychological and physical safety, and personal helplessness (Bentley, 1997). The experience of being homeless can be traumatic for some, and can affect the functioning of an individual. Traumatic events can lead to PTSD, depression, substance abuse, and other health problems (Brenner, 2006).
Goodman L, Saxe L, & Harvey M. (1991) says that trauma is likely among homeless individuals and families for three main reasons: “(a) The sudden or gradual loss of one’s home can be a stressor of sufficient severity to produce symptoms of psychological trauma. (b) The conditions of shelter life may produce trauma symptoms. (c) Many homeless people–particularly women–become homeless after experiencing physical and sexual abuse and consequent psychological trauma.”Several studies show that homeless women, whether living with children or not, have different trends and experiences than homeless men. In urban areas in the Philippines, households headed by men are, on average, poorer that households headed by women (Balicasan, 1994).
Stein (1995), assessed differences in drug and alcohol use, measures indicating severity of homelessness, criminal history, and mental illness between males and females. It was found that males were more prone to substance use, longer periods of homelessness, poorer housing quality, more frequent criminal activities, and less likelihood of living with a child. Males were also more prone to mental illnesses, drug use and mental illness and drug use, whereas females were more prone to alcohol use.North & Smith (1993) Found that homeless men had less frequent histories of substance abuse, incarceration, and felony conviction. Solitary women (living without children), as compared to women living with their children, were, on average, homeless longer, and more often had a history of alcoholism or schizophrenia.
While there are a significant amount of studies on family homelessness, most of it has focused mainly around the causes of family homelessness and characteristics of homeless family members. On women, mothers, and children, most studies focus on the effects of homelessness on them. There are relatively fewer studies done on how the experience of homelessness affected the family and its members. So far, I have not come across any study close enough in the Philippines.
Lindsey (1998), conducted a study on the perception of mothers on how homelessness and shelter life affected family relationships, and saw that there was an increased closeness with the children, but a disruption in their roles as disciplinarians and providers/caretakers. The mothers reported that two major aspects of the relationships within the family were the most affected during homelessness and living in a shelter: the quality of parent-child relations and the roles of a parent. The study identified three factors that affected family relationships: 1.
public mothering, 2. the disruption of the mother/parent role, and 3. mothers’ experience of being externally controlled by shelter rules.
The mothers saw very little to no impact of homelessness on the relationships among their children, but all reported that homelessness had a major impact on their relationships with their children. Most of the mothers said that they became closer with their children while living in the shelter because of the increased amount of time they spent together, while some mothers saw increased amount of time spent together as added burden and stress because shelter rules require parents to always be with their children and know where they are at all times, no matter the age of their children. All of the mothers felt a disruption in their parental roles while living in the shelter. It was difficult to take on the role of a provider because they cannot acquire the basic needs on their own in the first place. The disciplinarian role is also disrupted because the shelter rules prevent punishment of children, leading to mothers often feeling inadequate.
Another major factor that influenced their family relationships were shelter rules and conditions. Certain rules on behaviour were seen as damaging to their family relationships, such as curfews, mealtimes, and the requirement that children must always be beside their parents. One problematic rule was the prohibition of corporal punishment on children, leaving parents to use other forms of disciplining on their children which did not always work. This sometimes resulted to shelter staff correcting the parents in front of their children, which undermined their authority as parents and therefore affecting the relationships in the family. In some cases, this diminished parental authority encouraged children to exploit the no corporal punishment rule and test their parent’s patience, knowing they cannot be spanked or hit. In a shelter, living with many other different families can present unique difficulties. Disciplining children in front of other people can cause a phenomenon known as “public mothering”. Boxil and Beaty (1994) defined public mothering as:”When family interactions are often observed by other residents and staff.
Thus, parents find their decisions and actions judged by others, and frequently their mothering is “influenced and often directed by the presence and needs of other mothers” (p. 58). People would interfere with the disciplining of other people to their children, challenging the parent’s authority in discipling their children. Aside from fear of being judged, living with other people also posed safety concerns, parents had to constantly protect their family from the posed dangers of living with strangers.
The data also showed that the emotional state and temperament of the children affected their relationships, and that the children’s emotional state was affected by the mother’s own emotional state.2.2 Synthesis of Literature Review2.3 Theoretical FrameworkPhilippine-Centric Perspective Eurocentric worldviews reflect a belief system that places the European-American worldview, culture, and behaviour as the norms and preferred, if not superior, to others, specifically those of third-world countries, which are often viewed as never really measuring up to Eurocentric standards. A study within the local context should incorporate includes the environment, history, experiences, and strengths and resilience. The social work profession has long known the importance of the environmental context in practice.A local framework views research conducted within the Philippines using Filipino cultural values and worldviews. Adopting a Philippine-centric perspective would allow social workers to view behaviour and social functioning of Filipinos, even within communities, and thus adopt their methods and interventions according the local context.
Symbolic Interactionism “…human experience is mediated by interpretation. . .
. Objects, people, situations, and events do not possess their own meaning, rather meaning is conferred on them” (Bogdan & Bicklen, 1992, p. 36). In order to understand and analyze how homelessness impacts family relations in mother-headed families, it is necessary to know the experiences of families during periods homelessness and how the mothers interpret and give meaning to these objective or subjective experiences and how they think it affects the relationships within their respective families.For this research, the symbolic interactionist approach will focus on the micro-level; on human interactions in specific situations and contexts. Moreover, it adheres to the social work themes of diversity and empowerment; and is oriented toward social justice for vulnerable populations (Forte, 2001).
Feminist PerspectiveThe socialist feminist perspective recognizes that along with gender discrimination, race, class, education, and economics are other forms of discrimination that women experience (Oxford). This is exceptionally true among marginalized sectors. A homeless woman will experience all the physical, socio-economic, cultural, and emotional effects and discrimination that any homeless person would, compounded with the gender discrimination that women face on a daily basis.This study will employ a socialist feminist perspective because it recognizes all the forms of discrimination women experience, in this case homeless women.
This perspective also views that true gender equality means that all forms of discrimination and marginalization have to be addressed, and this study hopes to contribute to this through the use of the data this will produce in formulating interventions or helping models that will seek to recognize and address all forms of discrimination.Ecological FrameworkThe ecological framework considers the person within the context of the environment that they move and interact with. It recognizes that the person is in constant interaction with their environment in a reciprocal relationship.
The Pandi occupants have mostly been homeless and poor, and have thus lived in environments where they are highly vulnerable to trauma-inducing events and stressors. The Pandi occupants are on a special case on their own, being that they were the first ones to succeed in occupying such a large number of homes, and are constantly having to be alert and fend off any scare-tactics that other personal may employ. The social worker then, instead of just focusing on the client’s capacity to handle trauma and stress, should also assess their environment and the current access to health services and basic needs such as water, electricity, and sanitation, which they currently don’t have proper access to. It should also be considered that aside from the physical state of their housing units and areas, the occupants also experience media and social media opinions that at oftentimes can be harsh, given that Kadamay and their actions are frowned upon by netizens. Outside of their housing areas, the locals of Pandi have also been said to not approve of their actions, seeing them as potentially stealing the available jobs because of the occupant’s willingness to accept cheaper work. By applying an ecological framework in assessing the needs and strengths of the client and their interaction with their environment, the social worker can also identify and intervene the strenghts and weaknesses in the environments and the transactional process between the person and environment.
Chapter 3 METHODOLOGY3.1 Research DesignA qualitative research design will be employed due to the study being perception and experience based, as a qualitative design puts emphasis on meanings, interpretations, interactions, and subjective experiences of the participants (Gilgun, 2005). The methodology and research design of this study draws heavily from a study of the impact of homelessness and shelter-life on family relationships in Georgia and North Carolina, U.S.A. (Lindsey, 1998).
3.2 Profile of Target ParticipantsThe target participants of this study will be mothers from the occupants of the Atlantica Realty in Pandi, Bulacan. As discussed in the review of literature, there is noticeably fewer research focusing on mother-headed homeless families as compared to father-headed ones, and may often be overlooked.
Convenience is also a factor in choosing the participants, as it is usually the mothers who stay at home while their husbands go out of the housing sites to work, meaning locating participants will be easier.A purposeful sample selection method will be employed in the study, specifically criteria-based sampling. Purposeful sampling was selected so that relatively information-rich samples can be sought. It will consist of formerly homeless female household heads who are currently living in the housing sites in Pandi with their children. To be included in the study, prospect participants will have to meet the following criteria: – They must have experienced being homeless with at least one of their children prior to occupying the housing units.
– At least one of the children must have been under 18 years old during the episode/s of homelessness. – The family must have not experienced an episode of homelessness in the period of time between their occupation of the housing sites until the interview. – They have to be mentally capable of participating in an interview and articulate their experiences.Key-informants who know the community better than most, most likely Kadamay officers or community leaders, will be asked to nominate the mothers who they perceive or know will meet the criteria.3.3 Research MethodResponses will be gathered through a semi-structured, in-depth interview and will presumably take place in the participant’s homes, if they allow it. A semi-structured interview gives the interviewer the option to probe and explore points of inquiry, as there are no predetermined responses.
Participants will be informed of the purpose of the interview and research. Because the data needed are perceptions-based, the interview will be based on a guide that will use mostly open-ended questions, and will be aimed to be more conversational rather than conforming to a rigid structure. Following the consent of the participant, the interview will be audio recorded. Recordings have the indispensable advantage of capturing the interview word-per-word, but the risk of technical failure is ever-present. Recordings also have the advantage of documenting responses more accurately than writing notes, plus it allows the interviewer to focus more on the interview rather than writing notes.