Homeless Women: Homelessness Careers, Homelessness Landscapes

As women move through their homelessness journey they frequently fall through the net, failing to access appropriate accommodation and failing to access the support they require. They find themselves in situations and places of danger at times when adequate intervention may have kept them safe. And engaging with services, or accessing temporary accommodation, is rarely the end of the story. Homelessness is a dynamic, and non-linear, process. The trajectories women take into, out of, and through homelessness are influenced by a complex range of processes, events, actions and interactions. This report attempts to chart this ‘landscape of homelessness’ and in so doing, the very complex and multi-faceted nature of women’s experiences of homelessness is illuminated and the many influences on their homelessness trajectories illustrated. In 2006 Crisis commissioned the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research to research the situations and experiences of single homeless women, culminating in the publication of a report entitled Homeless Women: still being failed yet striving to survive. In that report, a wide range of issues are explored included the causes and consequences of women’s homelessness, patterns of service use, and the survival strategies which homeless women employ to manage and cope with their situations. The hidden nature of women's homelessness is highlighted, as is the prevalence of rough sleeping and the detrimental impact of homelessness on women's health and well being. It reveals that homeless women often resort to unwanted sexual liaisons in order to put a roof over their heads and frequently fail to access the assistance they need. The recommendations from that report fell into five categories: improvements and changes to local authority homelessness assessments, decisions and practices; recognising that gender does influence homeless women's situations; addressing current gaps in service provision; harnessing the important role that nonhomelessness places and public facilities play; and developing and expanding our 'thinking' about, and our approaches to, women's homelessness. A summary of the first report can be found in Appendix A. This report builds on the previous report and helps us understand the issues raised in the context of individuals’ lives. The material is drawn from the same study but focuses attention specifically on one aspect of the analysis of the data gathered, namely homeless women’s trajectories through homelessness – an aspect to which only limited attention could be paid in 'still being failed yet striving to survive'.

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