Where is community during COVID-19? The experiences of families living in housing insecurity

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This article explores the understanding of community to families living in insecure housing in one Australian state during the COVID-19 pandemic. Five female-headed families were interviewed during the pandemic and asked to identify what community meant to them. All participants were referred by an agency caring for families experiencing homelessness or housing insecurity. Community was defined using Bourdieu's concept of social capital, allowing for both bonding and bridging relationships to be explored. Bonding relationships refer to close emotional ties with family and friends, while bridging ties establish networks that provide individuals with access to resources. Two themes emerged that shed light on how community is understood during times of crisis: The first suggests that for families experiencing housing insecurity, particularly women escaping family violence, their links with community were primarily maintained by welfare and church agencies. These organisations provided bridging social capital during the pandemic that allowed the women and their children to cope with the isolation and to maximise opportunities. The second themes point to traditional notions of community as family and geographical space. Here the findings are mixed. Resources provided by government, and mediated through the welfare agency, allowed these families to create a safe and comfortable space. However, for First Nations women, the lockdown meant that it was difficult to maintain community obligations, while children who appeared to identify community with attendance at school found the lockdown confusing because of the disruption to their normal social space.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e2088-e2096
Number of pages28
JournalHealth and Social Care in The Community
Issue number5
Early online date15 Nov 2021
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2022


  • Community
  • Insecure Housing
  • homeless families
  • homelessness
  • families
  • Social Capital
  • bonding
  • insecure housing
  • social capital
  • homeless
  • community
  • bridging


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