Engaging women with lived experience of homelessness: Using the Community of Solutions Framework

Online Publication Date: 
December 24, 2021
Publication Status: 
Published

*** Published in Progress in Community Health Partnerships (PCHP) 15.4, December 2021. All rights reserved. ***

ABSTRACT
The interaction between homelessness and domestic violence exacerbates health inequities. To combat this problem, people with lived experience must be involved in community health improvement initiatives to improve ecological validity and sustainability. The authors understand homelessness through lived experience of homelessness or working with populations impacted by homelessness. A guiding framework (e.g., Community of Solutions) is useful when partnering with people with lived experience. The Community of Solutions framework builds skills in leading together, leading from within, leading for outcomes, leading for equity, and leading for sustainability to create meaningful, authentic collaboration and sustainable improvements in health, well-being, and equity. This paper highlights a novel use of the Community of Solutions framework by Downtown Women’s Center, located in Skid Row, Los Angeles, to guide community health improvement work with women who are survivors of domestic violence and have lived experience of homelessness. This work is written from the perspective of the Downtown Women’s Center as an organizational community. The aim of the paper is to highlight Downtown Women’s Center as an organizational bright spot in this work. It provides lessons learned and examples of Community of Solutions skills relevant to community practitioners working in partnership with women with lived experience to combat the lack of shared support services for the intertwined issues of domestic violence and homelessness.