While there has been work done on homeless populations, and policies regarding homeless shelters, there has been minimal sociological research into the case workers and shelters that work with the homeless to aid them in getting into housing. I studied a day shelter for the homeless in East Tennessee that utilizes a “housing first” method. There I interviewed eleven employees, volunteers, and board members of my chosen shelter, East Tennessee Homeless Services (ETHS). ETHS is regarded as a highly successful program, putting close to 100 people into housing every year. This paper seeks to explain the work done by the case workers at ETHS and why they are successful. I used Bourdieu’s essay “The Forms of Capital” as a theoretical basis for my findings. As a whole, I found that the case workers at ETHS use their own capital in order to further their clients’ position in society and help them get into housing. I also discovered themes of the “American Dream” in connection to home. This paper seeks to shine a light on what causes shelters to be successful, and to point out a hole in existing research on homeless shelters.


Frese, Pamela


Sociology and Anthropology


Home, Homeless, Capital, Homeless Shelter

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



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