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

Adjudicating the application of homelessness law: the promise of socio-legal studies

D. Cowan, S. Halliday and C. Hunter

Housing Studies, vol.21, 2006, p.381-400

Homeless households have the right to request an internal review of adverse local authority decisions about their eligibility for re-housing under the Housing Act 1996. Paper considers the potential of feedback from this internal review process for improving the quality of officers’ decision-making and compliance with homelessness legislation.

The causes of homelessness among older people in England

A.M. Warnes and M. Crane

Housing Studies, vol.21, 2006, p.401-421

Information was collected from 131 respondents and their key workers about the circumstances and problems that contributed to homelessness. Two-thirds of respondents had never been homeless before. Most of the respondents became homeless through a combination of personal disadvantages and weaknesses, stressful life events and inadequate welfare and support services. Problems included relationship breakdown, debt and rent arrears, disputes with neighbours or co-tenants, and acute distress or inability to cope following the death of a close relative or friend. These problems were often associated with mental ill health, heavy drinking, illiteracy and poor life skills.

Diversionary tactics

S. Keeble

Roof, May/June 2006, p.12-13

Presents evidence that vulnerable teenage parents are being told to seek private sector tenancies instead of being accepted as unintentionally homeless and allocated social housing by local authorities. These tenancies are insecure and rents are too high for young families dependent on benefits.

More than flats and jobs: supporting homeless and vulnerable people to achieve social and emotional aspirations

G. Lemos and F. Bacon

Housing, Care and Support, vol.9, Apr. 2006, p.29-33

Organisations working with homeless and vulnerable people should encourage clients to identify their interests and gifts and use them to build up their self-confidence, meet new people and set new goals. This approach strengthens vulnerable people’s sense of positive identity, helps them to sustain relationships with family and friends, and encourages them to engage with the community in which they live. This article describes an online framework that offers help in providing support of this kind.

Prevention: the best cure?

H. Pawson

Roof, May/June 2006, p. 32-35

Article refutes concerns that local authorities are reducing the number of acceptances of households as statutorily homeless by using prevention services as a cover for impeding applications for assistance. Such gate keeping practices are explicitly discouraged by government guidance The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister reports routinely investigating how reductions in homelessness acceptances by local authorities has been achieved in order to ensure that it is not through gate keeping practices. The reduction in homelessness acceptances on a national level that began in 2003 bears witness to the effectiveness of prevention strategies, at least in the short term.

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