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Write a critical report which engage theory and research evidence that demonstrates the theory and challenges of housing professionals in talking this issues.

The complexities of causation of homelessness and the trigger that are necessary or sufficient for it to occur?
 

Understanding Homelessness in UK

Homelessness can be defined as the condition of individuals who do not have a permanent dwelling such as an apartment or a house. Individuals who are homeless are most of the time found to be unable of acquiring and maintaining safe, secure, regular and adequate housing. The legal definition of homelessness varies in different countries or even in different jurisdiction of a country. In several countries an individual is considered to be homeless if his nighttime residence involves domestic violence center, a vehicle, motel, a tent city, shanty town structure or tarpaulins. In this report the chief causes of homeless in UK along with the factors that trigger it will be discussed. The UK homelessness charity states that home should not be considered as a physical space to live in, it provides identity, root, security, a support for emotional wellbeing and a sense of belonging to an individual.

Causes of Homelessness

It has been found that homeless is a complex relation between the individual circumstances of a person and adverse structural factors that are not under that particular individual’s control. The major causes behind homelessness in UK can be divided into the following factors:

Personal causes behind homelessness

Several numbers of factors can contribute towards the homelessness of individual in UK. Some of the major factors are as follows: 

Individual factors

This factor includes lack of qualifications, various kinds of debts, specially rent arrears or mortgage, lack of social support, relationship breakdown, poor psychological and physical health and getting involved in criminal activities in early ages of life (Fitzpatrick, Bramley and Johnsen 2013).

Family background

This factor includes family dispute and breakdowns, physical or sexual abuse by any of the family members during childhood or adolescence, having parent who are alcoholic or have substance abuse issues and previous experience of homelessness in the family.

Institutional background

This factor involves having been in the armed forces or in the prison.

According to researchers, in order to tackle the above mentioned issues, an individual requires support from families and friends and public bodies (Milbourne and Cloke 2013). Public support mainly involves intervention, counseling, advice and provision or training of alternative accommodation provided by the local authority. However, another group of researcher states that these issues can be resolved by the government policies which include providing a secure and decent accommodation to the homeless individuals and their families (Parsell, Jones and Head  2013).

Chief Causes of Homelessness in UK

Structural causes behind homelessness

Unlike the personal causes of homelessness, structural causes behind homelessness have both social and economic prospective and are outside the control of an individual. Some of the major structural causes of homelessness in UK include

  • Unemployment
  • Lack of affordable housing
  • Housing policies in UK
  • Poverty
  • The administration and structure of housing benefits.

Other reasons behind homelessness

Some of the major reasons that are given by the applicants for homelessness support in UK include

  • Parents, relatives or friends unwilling are unable to accommodate the individuals.
  • Major domestic violence resulting in relationship breakdown (Fitzpatrick, Johnsen and Bramley 2012).
  • Loss of an assured shorthold tenancy.

Causes of homelessness among youths in UK

While a good number of individuals are struggling with the issue of homelessness in UK, according to research, more than 150,000 youths in UK, applied for help at their local authorities every year (Parsell and Marston 2012). Youths of UK are finding themselves homeless for a good number of complex and distressing reasons. While a majority of them are able to manage temporary places to stay, the risks that are associated with homelessness can cause serious damage to the life of the young individuals and even may become fatal if not avoided. Some of the major reasons behind the homelessness of the individual are stated bellow:

  1. Family Breakdown

One of the major reasons behind youth homelessness is relationship breakdown between two young individuals or an youth and his/her parents or step parents. More than 10 young people who appear in the Centrepoint of UK come with the issue o being told to leave home or have left home due to arguments causing relationship breakdown. Several numbers of youths have shared their experience of long-term issues at home often causing violence.

  1. Complex Needs

It has been found that more than a third of young homeless individuals have mental issues that include anxiety and depression. A majority of homeless youths are highly dependent on substance abuse to cope up with their psychological illness. A similar proportion is seen to be struggling from various physical issues due to lack of nutrition and proper health care services. These two issues often overlap and make it even more difficult for young people to access the help of the government and thus increase the chances of being homeless.

  1. Deprivation

The chances of a youth of leaving home are higher in areas where the risk of deprivation and poor prospects for education and employment are high. Several numbers of youths who experience prolonged period of poverty can get into issues of debts, which in turn, make it harder for youths to access accommodation.

  1. Gang Crime

In UK, a good number of youths get attached with criminal activities (Somerville 2013). This factor can be considered as one of the chief reasons behind youth homelessness. This is because, several cases are there where youths associated with criminal activities are compelled to leave home in order to save their life. One in six homeless young people of UK have been involved in or affected by gang crime.

  1. Exclusion from school

Factors Triggering Homelessness in UK

Youths who have not accomplished a basic educational qualification find it more difficult to access help for homelessness issues or health issues. Missing out formal education makes it even more difficult for the youths to get jobs and deal with this homelessness issue.

  1. Leaving Care

Traumas faced by the youths in their early childhood often compel them to leave home. These youths are found to the most vulnerable youths in the community with higher chances of poor outcome in housing, employment and education.

  1. War and Persecution abroad

More than 13 percent of youths in UK are found be refugees. These youths have arrived in UK since their mother land was not safe for accommodation (Fitzpatrick et al. 2015). After being granted asylum, youths are often left homeless. 

Factors that triggers homelessness

Considering the fact that UK is suffering from homelessness, there are several factors that triggers homelessness in the country. Some of the chief factors for homelessness in UK are:

  • Divorce– In majority of the cases, divorce leaves one of the spouses homeless. Mostly the male partner is found to be homeless however several cases are there where the female partner along with the children are forced to leave home after divorce (Gaetz 2014).
  • Domestic violence– Women who are assaulted by their spouses and family members are often compelled to choose between homelessness and abusive relationship.
  • Illness– For individuals and families who are facing issues with paying their rent, a serious disability or illness can result in homelessness, beginning with loss of job, depletion of savings to pay for care, and eviction.
  • Lack of affordable housing– Several individuals in UK face the issue of high rent burden that is, rents which consume a crucial portion of an individual’s income. Along with that substandard housing and overcrowding can be considered as other two reasons for homelessness due to lack of affordable housing in UK.
  • Decline in public assistance– The new Temporary Assistance for Needy Family (TANF) food stamps and benefit are below poverty level in UK. Besides that, the median TANF benefit for a family of three is approximately one-third of the poverty level (Watts, Johnsen and Sosenko 2015). Thus it can be clearly understood that this method of welfare is not proving relief from poverty to the individuals.
  • Low wages– Declining and low wages of workers are preventing them to afford even a one bedroom apartment at fair market rent.
  • Natural disaster– Natural disasters that includes tornado, fire, hurricane and flood renders housing inhabitable.
  • Severe depression and post traumatic stress disorder– While several psychological depressions hinders the maintenance of stable life of an individual, individuals who have gone through violent situations face the same problem. These two serves as major factors that trigger homelessness (Heerde, Scholes-Balog and Hemphill 2015).
  • Physical disability– Individuals who suffers from physical disability often find it difficult to work or find an appropriate workplace. As a result, those individuals are not able to obtain and maintain a stale housing. 

Conclusion

From the above discussion, it can be clearly understood that homelessness is a crucial problem in UK. One of the biggest causes of homelessness in UK is lack of affordable housing and low income rates. While individuals of different age range are the sufferer of this social issue, a good number of youths are found to be the sufferer of homelessness in UK. Thus it can be clearly understood that homelessness is serving as a major threat for the society. Hence, the government of UK should provide more faculties and shelters for the homeless individuals. The problem of homelessness can be overcome by implementing appropriate foundations, charities, help and support both from the government and the public.

Prevention strategies of homelessness

Both in North Ireland and England the government have implemented several legislations to completely eradicate homelessness. In Northern Ireland, approximately 20,000 individuals ask the Housing Executive to help them coping up with homelessness (Executive and 900 2018). In order to prevent homelessness, the government of Northern Ireland along with several voluntary and statutory agencies, have developed homelessness Strategy 2017-22. The chief aim of the mentioned strategy is to ensure that no individual reach the point of becoming homeless. Several agencies are there who provide advice and temporary home to individual in case of emergencies.

 In England, it is mandatory for local housing authorities to develop strategies for preventing homelessness in their district (Gov.uk. 2013). This strategy not only includes helping those individuals who have legal right to demand help, but according to the strategy, the authority should also help individuals who don’t have the right to demand help for homelessness.

Comparison between North Ireland legislation and England legislation

The Housing (NI) Order (1988), chiefly focuses on the responsibilities of the housing executives towards homeless individuals or to those individuals who are likely to become homeless (housingadviceni.org 2018). They, along with several charities like Extern, Simon Community and Salvation Army provide advice and emergency housing to homeless individual. 


In England, The Housing (Homeless Persons) Act 1977, Housing Act 1996, and the Homelessness Act 2002 states that the Housing authorities should investigate the authenticity of homelessness first and should provide emergency help to the priority need groups that include children, mentally or physically disabled people and pregnant women (Crisis. 2018).

  • The government should ensure that all people residing in UK are obtaining effective help for homelessness.
  • In order to eradicate youth homelessness from its root, the government should provide free psychological counseling to young people and their parents.
  • Families or individuals who fall under priority need group should be provided emergency residence. 

Reference List:

Crisis. 2018. Homelessness legislation | Crisis | Together we will end homelessness. [online] Available at: https://www.crisis.org.uk/ending-homelessness/law-and-rights/homelessness-legislation/ [Accessed 26 Feb. 2018].

Executive, N. and 900, T. 2018. Our Homelessness Strategy | The Housing Executive. [online] The Housing Executive. Available at: https://www.nihe.gov.uk/homelessness_strategy [Accessed 26 Feb. 2018].

Fitzpatrick, S., Bramley, G. and Johnsen, S., 2013. Pathways into multiple exclusion homelessness in seven UK cities. Urban Studies, 50(1), pp.148-168.

Fitzpatrick, S., Johnsen, S. and Bramley, G., 2012. Multiple exclusion homelessness amongst migrants in the UK. European Journal of Homelessness, 6(1).

Fitzpatrick, S., Pawson, H., Bramley, G., Wilcox, S. and Watts, B., 2015. The homelessness monitor: England 2015. London: Crisis, pp. 87- 96

Gaetz, S., 2014. Coming of age: Reimagining the response to youth homelessness in Canada. Canadian Homelessness Research Network, pp. 123-145

Gov.uk. 2013. Homelessness data: notes and definitions - GOV.UK. [online] Available at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/homelessness-data-notes-and-definitions [Accessed 26 Feb. 2018].

Heerde, J.A., Scholes-Balog, K.E. and Hemphill, S.A., 2015. Associations between youth homelessness, sexual offenses, sexual victimization, and sexual risk behaviors: a systematic literature review. Archives of sexual behavior, 44(1), pp.181-212.

housingadviceni.org 2018. Homelessness in Northern Ireland. [online] Housing Advice NI. Available at: https://www.housingadviceni.org/homelessness-northern-ireland-0 [Accessed 26 Feb. 2018].

Milbourne, P. and Cloke, P. eds., 2013. International perspectives on rural homelessness. Routledge, pp.233-245

Parsell, C. and Marston, G., 2012. Beyond the ‘at risk’individual: Housing and the eradication of poverty to prevent homelessness. Australian Journal of Public Administration, 71(1), pp.33-44.

Parsell, C., Jones, A. and Head, B., 2013. Policies and programmes to end homelessness in Australia: Learning from international practice. International Journal of Social Welfare, 22(2), pp.186-194.

Somerville, P., 2013. Understanding homelessness. Housing, theory and society, 30(4), pp.384-415.

Watts, B., Johnsen, S. and Sosenko, F., 2015. Youth homelessness in the UK, pp. 345-356

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