Vulnerability to Homelessness, Use of Services and Homelessness Prevention in Black and Minority Ethnic Communities

Despite the high prominence of homelessness on the housing policy agenda and evidence that a disproportionate number of people affected by homelessness come from black and minority ethnic (BME) communities, little is known about patterns of access and use of homelessness services in these communities. This paper seeks to fill the gap, by drawing on qualitative and quantitative research recently conducted in Scotland, and relevant literature.

First, it considers some of the major factors that contribute to homelessness in black and minority ethnic communities as a basis for considering the level and type of support needed. Second, it examines the extent to which people affected by homelessness are able to draw on informal support. Third, the use of homelessness services is examined, including their accessibility and appropriateness for people from BME communities.

The implications of the study for developing culturally sensitive homelessness policies and strategies are considered, including (a) the need to recognise and respond to specific vulnerabilities and varying forms of homelessness between and within communities; (b) the need for mainstream and specialist BME service provision and multi-agency working; (c) the case for culturally sensitive allocation policies, including the potential afforded by choice-based allocations and common housing registers; and (d) mechanisms for providing culturally responsive services to diverse communities, particularly where they are present in small numbers. The paper concludes by considering the contribution of the present study to theories of homelessness.

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Housing Studies
United Kingdom