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Journeys Out of Homelessness: The Voices of Lived Experience

Jamie Rife and Donald W. Burnes
Journeys Out of Homelessness: The Voices of Lived Experience
ISBN: 978-1-62637-853-7
ISBN: 978-1-62637-860-5
ISBN: 978-1-62637-882-7
2020/205 pages/LC: 2019024923
Also of interest:  Ending Homelessness: Why We Haven't, How We Can edited by Donald W. Burnes and David L. DiLeo

"Rife and Burnes analyze each story to identify crucial factors that help people to secure stable housing…. This commonsense guide is full of insights for policy makers and social workers confronting the problem of homelessness." —Publishers Weekly

<!—[endif]——>"Giving voice to individuals who have experienced homelessness, Rife, Burnes, and their colleagues provide readers with in-depth knowledge of what it means to be homeless in the United States…. They also propose recommendations to end homelessness. Their book is an important contribution to our ability to address a grand challenge of our society."—James Herbert Williams, Arizona State University

"The individual journeys explored in this book underscore the incredibly resilient nature of those fighting to exit the dark tunnel of homelessness…. In response to the journeys presented, the authors clarify the micro and macro nature of this issue…. The book empowers each of us working in this field to continue our efforts, to work smart, and to work together. Doing so may allow us to answer the book’s important final question—will we ever end homelessness?" —George Hancock, executive director, National Center for Homeless Education

"Journeys out of Homelessness makes an important contribution to the national discourse on homelessness—both through Rife and Burnes' incisive analysis of homelessness and by amplifying the voices of those who understand it deeply from hard-earned experience. This book should be required reading for all those working to end homelessness, and indeed anyone who longs for a just society in which we strive to take care of one another.” —Jeff Olivet, founder of JO Consulting

"Rife and Burnes refuse to blame poverty on poor people, and provide compelling and cogent data, with a commanding analysis, to make their case.... They have creatively weaponized powerful personal accounts written by nine individuals whose experience of homelessness belies all our traditional stereotypes."—David DiLeo, Saddleback College

"Rife and Burnes tackle a highly complex and often widely misunderstood subject that has historical roots as old as our nation…. The stories shared in this book challenge our perspectives and place the political discourse on a path toward resolution, moving away from a model of managing homelessness to one of solving homelessness.  Combined with a thorough examination of laws and policies past, present, and future, they provide a path forward toward real solutions that are nuanced and strategic in their approach, just as the lives lived are. A highly recommended read." —Tisha R. Tallman, NAEHCY

"The authors have brought the experience of homelessness to life … while at the same time integrating its complexity. This book is a must read." —Ellen L. Bassuk, founder of C4 Innovations

"This book will change the dialogue and the public and political will to solve the issue of homelessness in the United States."—Susan E. Jacobson, Regis College


How do individuals move from being homeless to finding safe, stable, and secure places to live? Can we recreate the conditions that helped them most? What policies are needed to support what worked—and to remove common obstacles?

Addressing these questions, Jamie Rife and Donald Burnes start from the premise that the most important voices in efforts to end homelessness are the ones most often missing from the discussion: the voices of those with lived experience. In Journeys Out of Homelessness, they gather the first-person stories of some who have not only survived, but thrived, going on to find positive home situations.

Highlighting what we can learn from these personal stories, Rife and Burnes combine them with in-depth discussions of key themes and issues and point to the shifts necessary in current policy and practice that are essential if we are to effectively respond to a problem that has reached epic proportions.


Jamie Rife is executive director of the Metro Denver Homeless Initiative. Donald W. Burnes is founder of and senior adviser to the Burnes Center on Poverty and Homelessness at the Colorado Center on Law and Poverty.

Click here to visit Don Burnes's website, which contains more information about his work.


  • Journeys Out of Homelessness.
  • A Caring Adult: Barb's Journey.
  • Family-Centered Support: Tim's Journey.
  • Expanded Housing Options: Marie's Journey.
  • A Safe Place for Youth: Tiffany's Journey.
  • The Foster Care System: Blizzard's Journey.
  • Social Networks: Leanne's Journey.
  • Client-Centered Solutions: Michelle's Journey.
  • Someone Who Listens: James's Journey.
  • Improved Health Care: Caroline's Journey.
  • Toward Eradicating Homelessness.