Advancing a Five-Stage Typology of Homelessness Prevention

Suzanne Fitzpatrick, Peter Mackie, Jenny Wood

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Abstract

This paper seeks to demonstrate the efficacy of a five-stage, temporally-driven homelessness prevention typology encompassing universal, upstream, crisis, emergency, and repeat categories. We argue that this typology can be deployed to illuminate key comparisons in homelessness prevention policy and practice between different jurisdictions and over time, while avoiding the confusions, overlaps and ambiguities that occur in extant classifications. Drawing on an international evidence review, alongside data from a decade-long empirical study in the UK, four key lessons emerge which we contend have resonance across much of the global north. First, though there is growing evidence of the importance of both universal prevention measures (particularly the delivery of affordable housing and poverty reduction), and upstream preventative interventions (focused on high risk groups and transitions), practical action on both fronts has been deeply deficient to date. Second, and more encouragingly, there is a nascent shift in homelessness practice from an overwhelming focus on basic, emergency interventions, towards earlier stage attempts to avert the kind of crisis situations that can lead to homelessness arising in the first place. Third, and also welcome, is a trend within repeat preventative interventions from treatment-led to more housing-led models, albeit that this shift has been frustratingly slow to materialise in many countries, including the UK. Fourth, across all of these categories of homelessness prevention, there remain substantial evidence gaps, especially outside of the US.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)79-97
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal on Homelessness
Volume1
Issue number1
Early online date2 Nov 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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