Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work (MSW)


Social Work


Lyle S. Hallman Faculty of Social Work

First Advisor

Peter Dunn

Advisor Role

Thesis Supervisor


Women are increasingly experiencing poverty in Canada (Townson, 2000). This study seeks to gain an understanding of how women experience an extreme form of poverty—homelessness—within Kitchener, a mid-sized city located within the Waterloo region in southern Ontario, and the relationship of this experience to health.

Employing social determinants of health (SDOH) theory, this study examines the relationship between homelessness in Kitchener and one focus group was held.

This study indicates that homelessness had an all-encompassing influence on women’s health. Women experienced both impeding and promoting factors influecing their access to housing, healthy food, employment, health care, income, and social support, all key social determinants of health. Also, this research suggests that there are four linked spheres in which the social determinants of health present themselves in the social environments of women who are homeless: social policy, community resources, living conditions, and social relationships. Also, it argues that a feminist orientation in conjunction with SDOH is needed in order to more fully understand why women who are homeless face forces detrimental to their health. This study also has practical implications, as recommendations are made that address changes needed in order to promote women’s health at the macro-level as well as community and individual levels.

Convocation Year


Included in

Social Work Commons