Approaches to Homelessness Policy in Europe, the United States, and Australia

Workable and effective policies addressing homelessness need to be based on a clear definition of homelessness. This overview of recent policies in the European Union, the U.S., and Australia shows that, even at the very basic level of being able to define and enumerate the homeless, policy approaches are extremely variable. Research indicates the growing significance of the “new homeless,” consisting of families, women, and children. Homelessness also needs to be seen as something dynamic that may involve movement into and out of housing and other supports over time. Older policies that address only limited kinds of homelessness and which do not recognize the dynamics involved are likely to be less effective. “Good practice” policy incorporates these changing understandings of homelessness by addressing the housing, psychological and social needs of the homeless, as well as integrating across programs and increasing independence through capacity building.

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Journal of Social Issues