Homelessness

Publications and presentations

CHP has been delivering excellence in policy-focused homelessness research since 1990. Our research has been at the forefront of exploring the different dimensions of homelessness, including extensive work on young homeless people, homeless people with high support needs, homelessness among offenders, rural homelessness, homelessness among veterans and more recently has established expertise in women's homelessness.

Social integration

The Centre has pioneered research on improving social integration among homeless people. We have conducted research on social enterprises and Time Banking for homeless people and a large-scale longitudinal evaluation of the Crisis Skylight programme, which is designed to use arts-based activity, education, training and one-to-one support to enhance the life chances and well-being of homeless people.

Housing First

Our evaluation and discussion of Housing First has helped shape the debates about Housing First in both the UK and across Europe. CHP has played a leading role in development of the Housing First Guide Europe.

CHP research was at the centre of the development of the local lettings agency model in the UK, facilitating sustainable access to the private rented sector for homeless people.

Economic costs

Our current work includes pioneering attempts to properly understand the economic costs of homelessness to society. We are also exploring the potential cost benefits of effective preventative services and the capacity of innovations such as Housing First to deliver real financial savings, alongside better outcomes for homeless people.  Our research has also looked at the financial costs of temporary accommodation for homeless people in London.

European research

At European level, Joanne Bretherton co-directs the Women’s Homelessness in Europe Network (WHEN) and Nicholas Pleace works for one day a week for the European Observatory on Homelessness, which operates under the auspices of FEANTSA (the European Federation of Homelessness organisations).  Nicholas is also on the editorial committee for the European Journal of Homelessness.

Current and recent projects

  • Evaluation of Inspiring Change Manchester (ICM) - Housing First pilot - This two year evaluation (2016-18) will test the effectiveness of Housing First from the perspective of the people using the ICM pilot project. All service users have multiple support needs, and the project is attempting to support and enhance their capacity to live independently in their own home.
  • Housing First in England: Fidelity Assessment (2016) Project lead Deborah Quilgars and Nicholas Pleace will be working with the Homeless Link Housing First England programme to help develop guidance on using Housing First services for homeless people with high support needs - Housing First England. Building a clear fidelity assessment for Housing First in England is essential if the idea of Housing First is to develop and to thrive. The role that Homeless Link is taking in promoting fidelity to the principles of Housing First will be central to the success of Housing First in England.

  • Housing First in England: An Evaluation of Nine Services (2015) Research by Joanne Bretherton and Nicholas Pleace at the University of York has highlighted the potential effectiveness of the Housing First approach in reducing homelessness in England. This observational study of Housing First services showed high levels of success in reducing long-­‐‑term and repeated homelessness, which is associated with very high support needs. The successes of these English Housing First services reflect the results of positive evaluations of Housing First in North America and Europe. This highly influential piece of policy research followed CHP's 2013 report on Camden Housing First, exploring a pioneering use of Housing First in London. CHP has also undertaken evidence reviews on Housing First for the French Government (DIHAL) examined the use of Housing First in the Finnish homelessness strategy and undertaken work on Housing First for OECD and FEANTSA. Joanne Bretherton and Nicholas Pleace have written and presented widely on the use of Housing First in the UK and at European level (Joanne Bretherton and Nicholas Pleace). 
  • Housing and support services for single veterans - Stoll, Riverside, Forces in Mind (2013 - 2016)
  • Crisis: Skylight: Evaluation of the National Skylight Programme (2013 -) A major longitudinal programme evaluation co-directed by Joanne Bretherton and Nicholas Pleace for Crisis focusing on an innovative, flexible provision of education, training, one-to-one support, help with well-being and help with housing for single homeless people. The evaluation covers three building-based Skylight services in London, Newcastle and Oxford and three outreach-based services in Birmingham, Edinburgh and Merseyside. Recent reports include Joanne Bretherton and Nicholas Pleace (2016) "Crisis Skylight: Journeys to Progression: Second Interim Report of the University of York Evaluation" which focuses entirely on the initial results from large-scale qualitative cohort study which is one part of the mixed-method Crisis Skylight programme evaluation. The cohort study looks at the ways in which Skylight could bring positive changes in single homeless people’s lives, also exploring the barriers that some single homeless people could face in progression. towards social integration.  There are also a series of eight evaluative reports on the performance of individual Skylights (2013-2016) (Joanne Bretherton and Nicholas Pleace).
  • At What Cost? An estimation of the financial costs of single homelessness in the UK (2015) Homelessness has a human cost. The unique distress of lacking a settled home can cause or intensify social isolation, create barriers to education, training and paid work and undermine mental and physical health. When single homelessness becomes prolonged, or is repeatedly experienced, there are often very marked deteriorations in health and well-being. There is a need for better understanding of the costs of single homelessness in the UK and Crisis is working to develop further work in this field. This report, using qualitative and service cost data drawn from recent research, presents estimates that provide an overview of the additional financial costs of single homelessness can cause for the public sector. (Nicholas Pleace).
  • The Finnish Homelessness Strategy: An International Review (2015) This report describes the results of an international review of the Finnish National Homelessness Strategy. The review involved academic specialists in the field of homelessness from Finland, Sweden, the UK and the USA. The review explores the effectiveness of the Finnish attempt to deliver an integrated policy response to homelessness at national level. The review explores the ways in which preventative services, housing focused social work, supported housing and specialist support for groups such as homeless young people have been brought together within a strategic plan. Specific consideration is given to the role of Housing First, covering the debates around the widespread use of a ‘communal’ model, centred on relatively large, self-contained apartment blocks, in which only Housing First service users live. The achievements of Finland in developing a coordinated, comprehensive and holistic response to homelessness are discussed. The report argues that, while some aspects of homelessness have yet to be addressed, the Finnish example shows what a truly integrated national homelessness strategy can potentially achieve. A coordinated policy response has delivered both substantial and sustained reductions in long-term homelessness and significant progress in homelessness prevention (Nicholas Pleace)
  • Local Connection Rules and Access to Homelessness Services in Europe (2015) Many welfare and social housing systems are organised at municipal or regional level in Europe. Accessing these systems can often require proof of a local connection, of sustained residence in a particular area, which homeless European citizens, living in their countries of origin, cannot always provide. Reviewing local connection rules, this report finds examples of good and bad practice across 14 member states. There are systems designed to ensure homeless people can get the assistance they need and there is serious inequity, with homeless people being denied assistance, simply because they cannot show particular forms of local connection. This comparative report is the fifth in a series produced by the European Observatory on Homelessness (EOH) exploring pan-European issues through a questionnaire-based approach using a group of national experts (Nicholas Pleace).
  • Crisis: Outcomes evaluation for Crisis PRS access schemes Researchers: Julie Rugg with Nicholas Pleace. Ends in 2014.
  • Peer Landlord Model Evaluation Anwen Jones and Julie Rugg with Mike Stein (SPRU) are undertaking a longitudinal evaluation of an innovative approach to resettlement and homelessness prevention. The Peer Landlord Model has been developed by Commonweal Housing and will be piloted by Thames Reach and Catch 22. The research began in February 2012 and will be completed in the summer of 2014.
  • An evaluation of the Broadway Skills Exchange Time Bank (2014) Time  Banking  is  a  community-led  innovation  that  uses  time  as  currency.  An hour of time provided to a Time Bank ‘earns’ a one-hour time credit that ‘buys’ an hour of another Time Bank participant’s time, or may also be used to ‘buy’ other services. Broadway’s Skills Exchange Time Bank for homeless people was the   first   experiment   in   using   Time   Banking   to   enhance   the   well-being, employability and life chances of homeless people. (Joanne Bretherton)
  • Extent and Profile of Homelessness in European Member States: A statistical update (2014) Good quality statistical data are fundamental if effective strategies to reduce and prevent homelessness are to be developed. Small scale qualitative and cross-sectional survey research suggests that homelessness exists in multiple forms, but large scale, robust and longitudinal data are needed to fully explore these patterns. This report critically assesses the statistical data on homelessness in 15 member states. The report argues that there are encouraging signs, with improvements in data in Southern and Eastern Europe in recent years, but that there are important concerns about the comprehensiveness, robustness and comparability of statistical data on homeless people. This comparative report is the fourth in a series produced by the European Observatory on Homelessness (EOH) which explores pan-European issues through a questionnaire-based approach employing a group of national experts (Nicholas Pleace).
  • The use of medical evidence in homelessness decision-making (2013)   Unusually  in  the  international  context,  in  England  the  landmark Housing  (Homeless  Persons)  Act  1977 provided  a  set  of  justiciable  rights  to homeless people. Local authorities have a duty to assist homeless people who  meet a set of eligibility criteria set out in the Act. One of the criteria, ‘vulnerability’,  often  requires  consideration  of  medical  evidence.  Homelessness officers are the key actors in deciding whether or not an applicant is ‘vulnerable’. Previous research has often contended that there is both bias against some  high  need  groups  and  inconsistency  in  the  decisions  made  by  local  authorities  in  relation  to  vulnerability  under  English  homelessness  law.  This research builds on those critiques by examining decision-making in relation to the use of medical evidence in homelessness cases in England. It explores how homelessness  officers  assess  the  ‘expert’  medical  evidence  that  is  put  to them,  how  far  they  rely  on  their  own  intuition  and  judgement,  and  the  other factors that influence their ultimate decision. The study was able to investigate the  intersection  between  law,  administration,  and  medicine  and  add to the evidence base in the operation of English homelessness legislation (Joanne Bretherton).