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Welfare Reform on the Web (June 2010): Homelessness - overseas

Neo-liberal biopolitics and the invention of chronic homelessness

C. Willse

Economy and Society, vol. 39, 2010, p. 155-184

In recent years municipalities across the United States have launched programmes which offer immediate access to housing to chronically homeless single people without any requirement to accept social or medical services. This article argues that, for municipalities, chronic homelessness programmes offer a way of containing an unruly underclass in economically efficient and productive ways. These initiatives are replacing traditional approaches which sought to change the behaviour of single homeless people individually through disciplinary interventions.

The problem and barriers of RHYA as social policy

M. Glassman, D. Karno and G. Erdem

Children and Youth Services Review, vol. 32, 2010, p. 798-806

The Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA) has guided US social policy for homeless young people since 1974. This paper explores the Act from three viewpoints:

  1. the history of the Act, which started long before the legislation was passed in 1974, suggesting that RHYA is both a product and a captive of changing meanings of childhood over the 20th century
  2. RHYA as social policy, considering the populations it serves well, the populations it serves poorly, and those which it doesn't serve at all;
  3. the specific definitions of homeless youth which have emerged and become dominant because of RHYA. It is argued that the definitions of homeless youth prevalent in US government and social discourse differ dramatically from international definitions.

Reforming the work to combat long-term homelessness in Sweden

C.H. Lofstrand

Acta Sociologica, vol. 53, 2010, p. 19-34

In Sweden municipalities are responsible for combating homelessness. This article investigates policy changes in tackling the problem of long-term homelessness in Gothenburg. The first policy change involved dismantling the hostel system and replacing it with a 'housing staircase' model in the late 1980s. Under this regime, homeless people are supposed to ascend step by step from the streets to a dwelling of their own via low-grade shelters, category housing, training flats and transitional flats. Towards the end of the 1990s this model was abandoned in favour of a framework for contracting out services to private businesses.

Social and structural barriers to housing among street involved youth who use illicit drugs

A. Krusi and others

Health and Social Care in the Community, vol.18, 2010, p. 282-288

In Canada approximately 150,000 young people live on the street. This qualitative study based on interviews with 38 street involved young substance users in Vancouver explored the social and structural barriers they encountered when seeking housing. Structural barriers commonly experienced by this group included a lack of formal support in securing housing and appropriate income support, as well as barriers related to overly restrictive and abstinence-based shelters. Young people also reported structural barriers, such as a lack of trust between shelter staff and youth, as well as discrimination when seeking more permanent housing. As a result of such challenges, some young people relied on single-room occupancy hotels, although residing in such accommodation was viewed as dangerous and as giving up hope for a return to mainstream society. The findings point to a need for provision of safe, low threshold, harm reduction-focused housing options for street-involved youth who engage in illicit drug use.

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