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The incidence rate of homelessness in the United States has been trending positively over the last decade. The Department of Housing and Urban Development attributes this growth primarily to the West-Coast. States in this region particularly responsible for the rise in rates have significantly large concentrations of both homelessness and high-paying innovation-sector jobs in major cities–known as superstars for the extreme demand to live there. Dispersion between higher and lower-income residents is noted to be significantly higher in superstar cities. In light of the recent interference of an unprecedented pandemic, COVID-19, economists predict a significant increase in the incidence rate of homelessness nationwide. To further elaborate on this relationship, the interactions between homelessness rates, employment, costs of living, and government response are analyzed prior to the onset of COVID-19, and after the first COVID-19 case was confirmed in the United States. This analysis intends to explore how COVID-19 has impacted these 5 agglomerated cities' responses to the housing crisis. A qualitative grounded theory meta-analysis was performed. 5 cities (San Jose, San Francisco, Seattle, San Diego, and Boston) were selected for a comparison of qualitative data describing trends in homelessness, employment, costs of living, and government strategies. Data was compiled from literature released by government databases, annual government reports, research institutions, and relevant stakeholder associations. The interactions of COVID-19 on each variable are analyzed. Implications for future hypothesis testing are explored for the state of the combined housing and pandemic crisis as it continues to develop.

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homelessness, grounded theory, COVID-19, West Coast, San Jose, San Francisco, Seattle, Boston, San Diego


Growth and Development | Income Distribution | Inequality and Stratification | Place and Environment | Regional Economics

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Project Title

Interactions of the Housing Crisis and COVID-19: Grounded Theory


Librarian Mentor: DeeAnn Tran

Lindsay M. Cutler