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The Impact of the Environment and Air Quality on People Experiencing Unsheltered Homelessness in Salt Lake County

Semester: Summer 2023

Presentation description

The Salt Lake City region and its environment experience weather in extreme ways through heat, cold, and episodic poor air quality. As an already vulnerable population, people experiencing unsheltered homelessness are impacted in drastic and disproportionate ways. Our research project has aimed to better understand this impact through semi-structured interviews with people from this population recruited by both the Youth Resource Center and Men's Resource Center in Salt Lake City. Using thematic analysis to analyze the interviews we conducted, we found some common themes of safety (in regards to place), survival, policy, and independence among all of our participants. Generally, our participants talked about the importance of feeling safe and independent in the places they relocate to during extreme weather and having to initiate their survival instincts during these episodes, increasing their stress and decreasing their peace of mind. They also addressed the significance of having improved policies, influenced by people experiencing homelessness themselves, that would make it easier for their community to protect themselves from extreme weather such as less restrictions on the areas that they are/aren't allowed to spend time in or camp overnight. Despite these impacts caused by the environment and air quality, our participants also alluded to the fact that extreme weather and the environment were not on the top of their priority list when they think about their day-to-day survival. However, the fact that this community has become accustomed and numb to Salt Lake City's extreme weather and its impacts is also telling. With this information, we can better inform policy by highlighting the importance of environmental justice and safety and work towards protecting this community from periods of extreme weather that have become increasingly common throughout Salt Lake County.

Presenter Name: Yulisa Padilla-Fragosso
Presentation Type: Poster
Presentation Format: In Person
Presentation #17
College: Health
School / Department: Health, Kinesiology, and Recreation
Research Mentor: Jeff Rose
Date | Time: Thursday, Aug 3rd | 9:00 AM