Rights, needs and stigma: a comparison of homelessness policy in Scotland and Ireland

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    This paper considers the contrasting approaches to homelessness
    in Scotland and the Republic of Ireland. Scotland has developed a strong legal
    safety net for homeless households, which in effect now gives the vast majority
    of homeless households an individually enforceable legal right to settled
    housing. This approach has attracted international recognition, reflecting an
    emerging consensus that ‘rights-based approaches’ offer the best response
    to homelessness. In Ireland, homelessness policy has also become a focal
    point for reform. A rights-based approach has been rejected, however, in
    favour of a ‘social partnership’ model that seeks to build consensus and
    develop a ‘problem solving approach’ among key stakeholders. Drawing on
    primary research with national experts, service providers and homeless men
    in both jurisdictions, this paper considers whether legal rights better meet the
    housing needs of homeless men than alternative approaches and whether they
    help mitigate the stigma of homelessness. It is argued that rights-based
    approaches crowd out alternative policy objectives, providing a blunt but
    effective tool in prioritising housing needs, and help minimise stigma by casting
    homeless people as rights-bearers with legitimate entitlements.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)41-68
    Number of pages28
    JournalEuropean Journal of Homelessness
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Aug 2013


    • Homelessness
    • Right to housing
    • Access to housing
    • Social Housing
    • Scotland
    • Ireland


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