Literature Review on Homelessnes

Homelessness is a global tragedy that is an ongoing problem which arouses anxiety in government and civil society - Literature Review on Homelessnes introduction. There are many difficulties in defining what ‘homelessness’ really means. There has been a long debate about the definition of homelessness in Western countries (Neil & Fopp, 1992). Questions arise such as; how should we define people who don’t own their own accommodation but are staying temporarily with other households? Should they be labelled as homeless? This leads to the debate on; what are the causes of homelessness?

Is it due to the lack of affordable housing, or to a range of complex factors involving poverty and unemployment? Finally do homeless people deserve more help or not? These debates help governments to initiate new policies which can help in various perceptive in an attempt to find a resolution. Homelessness, which is a concern in Australia can be categorised as the literal, the subjectivist and the cultural. The literal definition corresponds to homelessness with being ‘rooflessness’ which is mostly portrayed by the media.

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The subjectivist definition attempts to establish ‘homelessness’ by asking people about the adequacy of their accommodation. The cultural definition argues that homelessness is an objective category which is not dependent on people’s perceptions. The debate about homelessness, according to some Australian scholars has responded that it is impossible to define homelessness. Sackville stated that there was ‘no universally accepted definition of the homeless population’ (Commission of Inquiry into Poverty 1976: 5).

In 1998, Burke (1998: 295) revived the point again that ‘Homelessness continues to escape precise definition, because of its complexity and increasing diversification. ’ Contrastingly the subjectivist definition quoted by Sophie Watson (1984, 1986) states that homelessness is a socially constructed concept and that what constitutes adequate housing can vary from one period to another. She also mentioned that difficult groups inside communities can have different needs and will not necessarily have the same expectations about what constitutes a home.

Sophie Watson was most concerned about the homeless women as she pointed out that even though women may be living in a house with her partner, women may not receive any emotional support or could be subjected to their partner’s physical violence. In this case she does have a ‘home’ but could be also interpreted as ‘homeless’. This is because the home she lives in is not home in an emotional sense or is it safe for them to stay. This argument defines that homelessness must always take into account the perceptions of those being studied.

Lastly the cultural definition of homelessness is based on the theoretical arguments proposed by Camberlain and Mackenzie (1992) that ‘homelessness’ and ‘inadequate housing’ are socially constructed, cultural concepts that only make sense in a particular community at a given historical period. Once this principle is acknowledged, it now becomes possible to define ‘homelessness’ as it helps identify shared community standards about the minimum housing that people have the right to expect in order to live according to the conventions and expectations of a particular culture.

Secondly it identifies those groups which fall behind the minimum community standard. Diverse, complex and often interdependent are contributing factors of homelessness. Multiple factors attribute to a person becoming homeless. There is much numerical debate on the causes of homelessness. One of the key arguments put forward by scholars, social workers and governments is ‘homelessness due to the lack of affordable housing, or to a range of complex factors involving poverty and unemployment’ By studying homelessness in South Africa, could give a clearer understanding in finding the factors of becoming homeless.

In South Africa Poor people are provided with free housing and infrastructure as an asset base to help those disadvantaged by apartheid to climb out of poverty (Hirsch, 2005). Although there was significant increases within social sectors and increase in holistic and human-value-driven housing policy (Department of Housing, 2004), there wasn’t a significant drop in homelessness to say that the issue was resolved. Some suggest that housing delivery is not the solution to homelessness. Many analysts and authors of the HRSC homeless studies quoted that eliminating poverty was the obvious solution to the issue (Ward & Seager, 2010).

Others believe that unaffordable housing or housing shortages and lack of institutional care were the causes of homelessness (du Toit, 2010). Although the factors previously mentioned are powerful contributory to homelessness, particularly in South Africa, homelessness still exists when self building informal housing are offered as a very cheap alternative to a formal subsidy housing. It is clear that causes of homelessness cannot be caused by a single factor but through multiple factors. Finally, do homeless deserve to be helped or not? This argument is

The Australian government has numerous programs that are funded to prevent and support homelessness in Australia. The Commonwealth also provides a range of social security, health and welfare benefits for people who are in need. As homelessness tends to be the final product of many issues such as drug abuse, family dispute, economic and other issues, it is sometimes difficult to pin point where the antidote is required. To combat this, the Australia government has initiated programs such as the Supported Accommodation Assistance Program (SAAP) which From 1st July 2011 SAAP is now called The Specialist Homelessness Services (SHS).

The program looks after women escaping domestic violence, young people and single men and women. The Commonwealth State Housing Agreement (CSHA) and the Crisis Accommodation Program (CAP) helps low income or disadvantaged people to assist renters and purchasers to obtain appropriate accommodation and provision of public housing. Also the emergency relief program (ERP) provides funding to community and welfare organisations which help assist families and individuals in short term financial crisis (McIntosh & Phillips, 2000).

It is clear from the discussions that governments find it difficult to contain all the problems faced, and to locate the crucial factors which lead to homelessness. Homelessness is not just a problem faced in Australia. It’s a global issue where perfect formulas aren’t created to fully support of even end homelessness. The society and governments have to realize that being homelessness is sometimes not a choice and that we need to look into the issue more subjectively rather than defining them culturally or even literally. Every homeless person has its own reasons and to fully understand them we need to assess the problems individually.

Reference * THE DEBATE ABOUT HOMELESSNESS. Full Text Available By: Chamberlain, Chris; Johnson, Guy. Australian Journal of Social Issues, Feb2001, Vol. 36 Issue 1, p35-50, 16p, 2 Charts * There has been a long debate about the definition of homelessness in Western countries (e. g. Neil & Fopp 1992; House of Representatives 1995; Avramov 1995; Hopper 1997). * There’s no home-like place’ – Homelessness in Australia * http://www. aph. gov. au/library/intguide/sp/homeless. htm Greg McIntosh, Analysis and Policy Janet Phillips, Information/E-links Social Policy Group http://www. aihw. gov. au/homelessness/

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