Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Vincent Lyon-Callo

Second Advisor

Dr. John Holtzman

Third Advisor

Dr. Lynwood Cousins


Homeless shelters, employees, burnout, autonomy, gray zone

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


Homeless shelters run on one thing: workers. Without workers there is no supportive aid for the homeless. A daunting and emotional job that is taken on by thousands, but why? Is the goal in entering this line of work to make an impact on homeless populations, a lasting difference? Everyone has their own personal reasons, however what are the main reasons for people going into a job like shelter work? What is it that motivates these workers to continue this line of work or motivates them to leave? It is a job that offers low pay, and emotional settings. A job that is held by a structure of the system that could lead one questioning their autonomy. Despite the low pay, less than joyful settings, and inability to make structural changes? It is important to find these reasons, look at those who work in this field, and those who have fled due to burnout. Through previous literature and interviews we get a look at these questions. This thesis provides insightful information as to why individuals decide to work in homeless shelters.