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Welfare Reform on the Web (April 2006): Homelessness - UK

A. Smith

Lewes: Book Guild, 2005

The author describes the years he spent working with homeless teenagers at the Valerie Hanson House in Northampton. He analyzes the problems posed to society by homelessness and describes ways in which the youth can be helped to better education and skills. The work of the hostel included attempting to reintroduce the young people to mainstream living and to keep them away from the street and out of the courts.

M. Crane and A.M. Warnes

Health and Social Care in the Community, vol.14, 2006, p.156-166

There is little rigorous research evidence about the effectiveness of homelessness prevention practice. This article is a contribution. Information was first collected from a sample of 131 older homeless people in England about the combination of vulnerabilities and negative events that led to their losing their homes. Five packages of reasons that created distinctive pathways into homelessness were identified: 1) mobility or functioning difficulties that derived from physical or mental health problems; 2) financial problems and rent arrears, often due to Housing Benefit delays; 3) the death of a relative or close friend; 4) the breakdown of a marital or co-habiting relationship; and 5) disputes with co-tenants and neighbours. A consultation with housing, social services and health professionals then took place to elicit their views on homelessness prevention. There was general agreement that homelessness due to Housing Benefit delays, bereavements and mental and physical ill health was avoidable, but that it was intrinsically difficult to reduce incidence due to relationship breakdown or neighbour disputes arising from anti-social behaviour. The article concludes by presenting four distinct proposals for preventing homelessness that emerged from the consultation exercise: 1) monitoring rent arrears; 2) help with social security benefit and financial problems; 3) assessing for vulnerability in primary health care settings; and 4) collaborative working between professional agencies.

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