Homelessness and Gender Reconsidered

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Although research has been sporadic, the available evidence indicates that gender is consistently associated with differentiated trajectories through homelessness in Europe. Women’s pathways through homelessness have been linked to domestic violence, women being ‘protected’ by welfare systems when dependent children are living with them and an apparently greater tendency for women to use and exhaust informal support, rather than homelessness or welfare services. This evidence is frequently disregarded in current European homelessness research, which often uses conceptualisa- tions, definitions and methodologies developed when homelessness was seen predominantly as a social problem among lone adult men. The sites at which homelessness is studied and the ways in which data are collected, limit accuracy of measurement and inhibit understanding, but, this paper contends, the real issues centre on how mainstream definitions of homelessness exclude women. Women, who lack any security of tenure, physical safety, privacy and whose living conditions are otherwise unacceptable – who are homeless – are too often outside the scope of contemporary European homelessness research. Drawing on recent UK studies and the wider European literature, this paper argues that there is a need to cease a longstanding focus on the streets, homelessness services and (predominantly) male experience and to look instead at the more nuanced interrelationships between gender and agency to fully understand the nature of homelessness in Europe.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-22
Number of pages22
JournalEuropean Journal of Homelessness
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2017

Bibliographical note

© 2017, The Author(s).


  • Homelessness
  • Gender

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