Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Graduate School of Social Work

First Advisor

Kimberly Bender

Second Advisor

Shannon Sliva

Third Advisor

Marquisha L. Scott


Game-based inquiry, Geography, Homelessness, Permanent supportive housing, Trauma-informed care, Youth and young adults


Unhoused young people have often endured co-occurring experiences of marginalization, including long-term abuse and neglect from systems which have failed to support them. Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) is a formal intervention which seeks to offer stability and support to young people. This three-manuscript dissertation uses community-engaged mixed methods to understand sense of community, sense of place, and third places among young adults in PSH in Grand Junction, Colorado.

The first manuscript used longitudinal mixed methods to understand how PSH residents’ (N = 27) sense of community shifts over 1.5 years of living in PSH. We found that residents’ sense of community was shaped by an ongoing negotiation of personal and collective needs. Building community takes time and requires opportunities for voices to be heard, along with ongoing personal and relational growth.

The second manuscript used geographic interviews, a qualitative geographic information systems (QGIS) methodology, to understand residents’ (N = 15) sense of place within PSH. We found that the common areas (third places) within the PSH setting were contested spaces: a mix of connection and compromised safety, corners of comfort amidst milieus of noise and conflict. As such, residents desired choice-centered spaces, where there are choices of what to do, who to spend time with, and how to spend time.

The third manuscript used game-based inquiry to understand how recently housed young adults (N = 23) would reimagine third place settings. Participants suggested third places must offer opportunities for agency and individualization; they must meet everyday needs; and they must be explicitly inclusive. To actualize these tenets, participants imagined places that meet many needs and do many things; portable and adaptable physical spaces; freedom to choose how to play; attending to and subverting oppressive social hierarchies; providing choice for privacy or connection; knowing people will be around; and free amenities.

These findings have implications for PSH settings, and other settings which aim to support young people. Further, this work contributes to theoretical and methodological development at the nexus of creativity, choice, and care for young adults who have endured ongoing failure from the systems meant to support them.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Danielle Maude Littman


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

230 pgs


Social work

Available for download on Friday, August 01, 2025

Included in

Social Work Commons