Homelessness As a Fusion Policy Problem

Homelessness is often considered to be an outcome of individual behaviours and shortcomings, or individual conditions. However, research has demonstrated that there are several policy factors that are strong predictors of homelessness at state or national levels. In fact, policies from sectors as various as the justice system, health system, income supports, and housing can all create the context in which people find themselves de-housed. This chapter will explore homelessness as a “fusion policy problem”, meaning that problems across a variety of policy areas fuse together to create this particular social ill. The chapter focuses on the U.S., Canada, and Finland as examples, although the concept holds true internationally. A variety of particularly concerning policies is presented across different public systems, and proposed reforms to each of the policies are presented from within the research literature. Ultimately, this chapter presents considerations for how we can prevent and end homelessness at a structural rather than individual level.

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Geographies of Behavioural Health, Crime and Disorder