HABRI announces new research to support unhoused youth with pets


The research project will try to develop a multi-perspective strategy for reforming housing services

Sergey Nivens / stock.adobe.com

Sergey Nivens / stock.adobe.com

The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) will fund a new research project to help create a better strategy to rehome housing services in order to support unhoused young people with pets. The research will be done by the University of Denver Graduate School of Social Work.

“We want to identify how to improve the policies of existing housing service systems to better support young people with pets who are unhoused,” Erin Flynn, a PhD student who will co-lead the project, said in an organizational release.1 “Through this research, we will synthesize the expertise of unhoused young people and service providers to develop a framework for housing systems to better protect the human-animal bond for this vulnerable population.”

According to the release, every year 4.2 million young people in the United States experience some level of homelessness, and unhoused people face higher risks of health problems, substance abuse, and depression. Scientific research demonstrates the health and developmental benefits of pet ownership for young people, ranging from better mental health and quality of life to improved physical health. Pets may be especially likely to benefit vulnerable populations such as unhoused youth.

Flynn will be joined by co-principal investigator Laura Coddington, also a Ph.D. student at the Graduate School of Social Work, and co-investigators Kimberly Bender, PhD and Jennifer Wilson, PhD. Researchers will conduct in-depth interviews with unhoused young people and housing service providers in the Denver, CO area. Interviews will be focused on identifying how current policies, practices and beliefs influence young people’s relationships with pets, and will identify barriers and solutions to help support unhoused youth with pets.

“Currently, housing service programs do not recognize the critical role that the human-animal bond plays in the lives of unhoused young people with pets,” Coddington stated in the release. “Our research will help address this critical gap in current housing initiatives available to young people.”1


New research to support unhoused youth with pets. News release. Human Animal Bond Research Institute. Published October 12, 2022. Accessed November 3, 2022. https://habri.org/pressroom/20221012

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