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Welfare Reform on the Web (August 2011): Homelessness - overseas

A prevention-centered approach to homelessness assistance: a paradigm shift?

D.P. Culhane, S. Metraux and T. Byrne

Housing Policy Debates, vol. 21, 2011, p. 295-315

Prevention has long been recognised as key to addressing the problem of homelessness, but effective preventive initiatives have proved difficult to implement. This has led to a continued emphasis in the US on assisting those who have already lost their housing and to the consequent institutionalisation of homelessness. However there has recently been an increased policy focus on homelessness prevention, including the implementation of the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP) and the renaming of the federal Emergency Shelter Grant as the Emergency Solutions Grant. Eligible activities under this new programme include more prevention and re-housing. However, policy has run ahead of the development of any clear model on which to build a homelessness prevention and rapid re-housing system. This paper outlines a conceptual framework that might guide a transformation to a prevention-oriented approach to homelessness, along with implications for programme design and practice, and the need for new data collection standards to support programme performance monitoring and evaluation.

Street to Home: the experience of long-term unsheltered homeless individuals in an outreach and housing placement programme

J.J. Jost, A.J. Levitt and L. Porcu

Qualitative Social Work, vol. 10, 2011, p. 244-263

Outreach programmes targeted on rough sleepers in the US have traditionally required service users to undertake treatment for substance abuse and/or mental health problems and to demonstrate 'housing readiness' before being placed in permanent accommodation. More recently programmes and service providers have developed alternative approaches that reduce barriers to permanent housing. 'Housing first' programmes, based on the belief that housing is a fundamental right, focus on accelerating placement into permanent housing without preconditions of abstinence or treatment compliance while offering clients a range of treatment options. Using data gathered through in-depth interviews with 20 clients, this article examines Street to Home, a street outreach programme in New York whose primary aim is to place long-term rough sleepers into permanent housing. Based on the principles of 'housing first' the programme provides immediate access to transitional or permanent housing, by-passing time spent in shelters.

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