Explore homelessness through various web sites that present homelessness statistics, violence against homeless, role-play, and individual/community perspectives on homelessness.

Homelessness in America: A WebQuest

by Denise Foster, MSN, RN, CNE

Explore homelessness through various web sites that present homelessness statistics, violence against homeless, role-play, and individual/community perspectives on homelessness.


http://questgarden.com/125/67/7/110429100732/images/WQ11.jpg http://questgarden.com/125/67/7/110429100732/images/WQ10.gif

Homeless in America

Anderson and McFarlane (2015) note that “Individuals who make up the U.S. homeless population are among the most marginalized and vulnerable to disabilities and disease” (p. 316). Lundy & Janes (2016) state that “the United States is faced with overwhelming social problems, including the tragedy of the homeless” (p. 698).

In our area, there are several intersections and city streets where you may see a homeless person. Many times, individuals stand on street corners holding signs, “Will work for food”, “Homeless vet, please help.” We drive by these individuals in our vehicles, ignoring their signs and leaving the memory of their existence at the side of the road.

How often do you consider the roof over your head, the food in your cabinets, and the bed you sleep in as a luxury? How many times have you passed a homeless person or encountered a person begging on the street and passed them by thinking, well, not so nice thoughts?

This WebQuest will present web resources that describe and define the homeless and the problems that homelessness brings. Your goals, upon completion of the WebQuest, are to evaluate the web sources presented here, challenge your thinking about the homeless, and suggest some community interventions.

Homelessness is a pervasive problem in this country and by understanding some of the issues surrounding homelessness, you may decide to address this problem as a professional nurse.



Explore the website links that are listed in the section below titled Process. Upon completion of this WebQuest, please return to your Brightspace course and post your responses to the following questions:

(1) Evaluate the web sources presented here. Do they paint a valid picture of the homeless? Are they valid and non-biased? Which sources are considered scholarly resources? Give specific examples of the scholarly resources. Which sources are grey literature? Give specific examples of the grey literature. Which sources are not scholarly or grey literature? Give specific examples of the resources which are neither scholarly nor grey literature. Explain how each of these examples has contributed to your knowledge and attitudes related to the homeless.

(2) Challenge your thinking. After completing the WebQuest, has your opinion about homeless individuals changed? If so, how did it change? If not, provide rationale.

(3) Suggest at least two community interventions for the homeless. Are there examples of these interventions in our area?

Note: Some of the questions above were adapted by Mary Ann Notarianni, PhD, RN


Topic #1

Homelessness in the United States: What are the facts?


http://questgarden.com/125/67/7/110429100732/images/House.jpg Statistics and Facts about homelessness

Why are people homeless? – Several reasons for why individuals and families become homeless

How many people experience homelessness? – What’s the “big picture”?

Who is homeless? – A comprehensive report prepared by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

http://questgarden.com/125/67/7/110429100732/images/House.jpg Experiencing Homelessness

Homeless Tent City – YouTube video showing how the homeless survive a winter

America’s youngest outcasts – Peruse this report to see how homelessness impacts children




Topic #2

Homelessness and Violence – A disturbing perspective



http://questgarden.com/125/67/7/110429100732/images/House.jpg Violence against the homeless

Epidemic: Teens beat homeless – YouTube video about a disturbing trend

But, is this trend changing? – This recent YouTube video gives us hope that homelessness is being viewed with more compassion.

Hate Crimes Against the Homeless – An Organizing Manual for Concerned Citizens – A manual designed for interested individuals to combat violence against homeless individuals. You don’t have to read the whole manual, but there are many excellent suggestions you can use as a nurse.

Passers-By Ignore Dying Homeless Man – A terrible tragedy

Vulnerable to Hate: A Survey of Hate Crimes & Violence Against Homeless People in 2013 – A comprehensive report compiled by the National Coalition for the Homeless

http://questgarden.com/125/67/7/110429100732/images/House.jpgBut, aren’t homeless people criminals or mentally ill?

11 myths about homelessness in America – Fact or fiction?

Homes not handcuffs: The criminalization of homelessness in U.S. cities – An article from the National Coalition for the Homeless on how cities are making homelessness a crime to solve their city’s homeless problem

Computer programmer teaches homeless to code – Homeless individuals are people, just like me and you.  What could these individuals accomplish, given a helping hand, not a hand-out? Watch this YouTube video about a homeless man who was given a computer and some books on computer coding…






Topic #3

Homelessness: Could it happen to you?



http://questgarden.com/125/67/7/110429100732/images/House.jpg What makes you homeless?

If you were homeless….  could you survive? Play this online interactive role playing game.  Can you make it to the end of the month?

Risk factors for homelessness: Evidence from a population-based study  – Journal article by Katherine H. Shelton, Ph.D., Pamela J. Taylor, M.D., Adrian Bonner, Ph.D. and Marianne van den Bree, Ph.D. Published in Psychiatric Services (2009), 60(4), 465-472.

http://questgarden.com/125/67/7/110429100732/images/House.jpg Homelessness in our area

Virginia Homeless Shelters  – Is there a shelter in your neighborhood?

From tents to a church: Homeless in Virginia Beach  – Review these city plans to address homelessness – how are they doing so far?

The City of Virginia Beach’s Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness – from 2007 to 2017, Virginia Beach has adopted a plan to tackle the homelessness problem found locally

A Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness – Portsmouth has also adopted a plan to address homelessness found in the city





Your responses to the questions after you have completed your WebQuest will be evaluated as a Blog posting.

Please refer to your Syllabus to determine the grading criteria for your responses to the WebQuest questions.





Source: National Alliance to End Homelessness

You have completed this Homelessness WebQuest and have reviewed several web resources that presented different perspectives on people experiencing homelessness.

Before returning to Brightspace to answer the Blog questions, consider the following:

· Are these web sites valid? Which sites present information that is factual and which sites are opinionated?

· What is your perspective on the homeless? Has it changed after reviewing these web sites? If your perspective has changed, what caused the change?

· Are you interested in learning more about helping the homeless in our area?  Can you think of organizations that could assist in helping the homeless?

Return to your Brightspace course and answer the Blog questions that are posted there. 



















Anderson, E.T., & McFarlane, J. (2015). Community as partner – Theory and practice in nursing (7th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Wolters Kluwer Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. Burligton, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.

Lundy, K. S., & Janes, S. (2016). Community health nursing: Caring for the public’s health (3rd ed.). Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett Publishers.

Homelessness in the United States: What are the facts?

Statistics and Facts about homelessness

National Coalition for the Homeless. (2009, July). Why are people homeless? Retrieved from http://nationalhomeless.org/factsheets/why.html

National Alliance to End Homelessness. (2016). Snapshot of homelessness. Retrieved from http://www.endhomelessness.org/pages/snapshot_of_homelessness

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. (2015, November). The 2015 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) to Congress. Retrieved from https://www.hudexchange.info/resources/documents/2015-AHAR-Part-1.pdf

Experiencing Homelessness

CNN (Producer). (2015, January 6). People living in tent city preparing for cold winter. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1o4k4IqRgGo&feature=youtu.be

You Tube (Producer). (2014, November 18). Report: Child homelessness rising in US. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oCG_3LAa6as&feature=youtu.be

Homelessness and Violence – A disturbing perspective

Violence against the homeless

National Coalition for the Homeless. (2014, June). Vulnerable to hate: A survey of hate crimes & violence committed against homeless people in 2013. Retrieved from http://nationalhomeless.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Hate-Crimes-2013-FINAL.pdf

CBS (Producer). (2008). Epidemic: Teens beat homeless. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4mbbvncks9c

Inside Edition (Producer). (2017, January 30). Teens surprise man with Chick-fil-A gift cards after seeing him go hungry. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/lbq_EJ0kvGs

National Coalition for the Homeless. (2012, January). Hate crimes against the homeless: An organizing manual for concerned citizens. Retrieved from http://www.nationalhomeless.org/publications/hatecrimes/hatecrimesmanual12.pdf

Newsy.com (Producer). (2010). Passers-by ignore a dying homeless man. Retrieved from http://www.newsy.com/stories/

But, aren’t homeless people violent or mentally ill themselves?

Lopez, G. (2015, September 23). 11 myths about homelessness in America. Retrieved from http://www.vox.com/2015/1/15/7552441/homeless-facts-myths

Homelessness: Could it happen to you?

What makes you homeless?

Spent.com. (n.d.) Online game. Retrieved from http://playspent.org/

Shelton, K.S., Taylor, P.J., Bonner, A., and van den Bree, M. (2009). Risk factors for homelessness: Evidence from a population-based study. Psychiatric Services, 60(4), 465-472.

Homelessness in our area

Homeless Shelters Directory. (n.d.) Virginia homeless shelters. Retrieved from http://www.homelessshelterdirectory.org/virginia.html

Le, J. (2010, January). From tents to a church, beach counts homeless. Retrieved from http://pilotonline.com/news/from-tents-to-a-church-beach-counts-homeless/article_d98c01fc-c612-5d78-8c2f-55bbf285c4a3.html

The Planning Council. (2008, September). A ten year plan to end homelessness in Portsmouth, VA. Retrieved from http://www.portsmouthva.gov/DocumentCenter/View/28

Virginia Beach Department of Housing and Neighborhood Preservation In Partnership With The Virginia Beach Homeless Advocacy and Resource Partnership. (2007, June). The City of Virginia Beach’s ten year plan to end homelessness: 2007 – 2017. Retrieved from  http://www.endhomelessness.org/page/-/files/3083_file_Virginia_Beach_TYP.pdf


National Alliance to End Homelessness. (2007, January). Homelessness counts. Retrieved from http://www.endhomelessness.org/content/general/detail/1440



Author Biography

Denise Foster, MSN, RN, CNE I am an Associate Professor at Sentara College of Health Sciences. As an educator in the Baccalaureate Nursing program, I use WebQuests in most every course I teach. I am currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Higher Education with a teaching emphasis at Regent University in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

Permissions We all benefit by being generous with our work. Permission is granted for others to use and modify this WebQuest for educational, non-commercial purposes as long as the original authorship is credited. The modified WebQuest may be shared only under the same conditions. See the Creative Commons Attribution • Non-Commercial• Share-Alike license for details.

The post Explore homelessness through various web sites that present homelessness statistics, violence against homeless, role-play, and individual/community perspectives on homelessness. appeared first on Infinite Essays.

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