There has been a sharp increase in homelessness following recent UK welfare and other social policy reforms; these reforms included public expenditure reductions, compounded by benefit cuts which lowered/capped housing benefits and weakened welfare protection and the housing safety net. The increase occurred despite efforts by the government and charitable organisations to mitigate it, which raises questions about their strategies’ effectiveness and about policymakers’ understanding of homelessness. This study aims to gain insight into the determinants of homelessness through examining the life stories of homeless people and those who work with them. Constructivist grounded theory (CGT) is used to develop a theoretical explanation of the determinants of homelessness. Qualitative in-depth semi-structured interviews are being conducted in several centres for homeless people in the north west of England, UK. Initial analysis of the stories of homeless people reveals four determinants of homelessness: home and childhood environments; experiences during school life; type of social lifestyle; and opportunities for access to social goods. Participants see their homelessness as a manifestation of fundamental determinants of social inequalities such as education; income inequality; unemployment and welfare; barriers to housing and other services; crime and living environment.
Mzwandile A Mabhala