Is Work an Answer to Homelessness? Evaluating an Employment Programme for Homeless Adults

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There is mounting evidence that preventative services and Housing First, working with other homelessness services within an integrated home- lessness strategy, can greatly reduce the experience of lone adult homeless- ness. However, progress in reducing the socioeconomic inequalities and poor social integration associated with lone adult homelessness has been more mixed. Housing can be both secured and sustained, but absence of family and friendship ties, poor community inclusion, relatively poor health and economic exclusion can still continue after the physical experience of homelessness has ended. This paper draws on a two-year longitudinal evaluation of a multi-site programme that was designed to promote economic and social integration among homeless people in the UK. Tracking a cohort of people using the service over two years, it was found that people whose lives had been char- acterised by sustained social and economic integration prior to homelessness were most readily assisted by the programme. Successes were also achieved with homeless people who had little experience of formal paid work, and with people with higher needs for treatment and support, but results were more mixed. Work secured with the help of the programme could play an important role in facilitating and sustaining an exit from homelessness. However, some programme participants who were ‘successful’, in that they secured work and were no longer homeless, found themselves in a liminal state, in which their employment and housing were both poor quality and insecure.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-83
Number of pages24
JournalEuropean Journal of Homelessness
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 20 Apr 2019


  • Homelessness
  • Employment
  • Labour market activation

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