Without the voices of those impacted by homelessness, there is a risk that important understandings essential to the development of effective solutions to homelessness will remain obscured. The aim of this project was to provide an overview of the evidence base and insights into recommendations for development and implementation of policies and practices to promote meaningful involvement of people experiencing homelessness as part of a community response to homelessness in a mid-size Canadian city. A scoping literature review was conducted focusing on homelessness and social exclusion/inclusion.
Based on this review, we provide insights into the processes of social exclusion and inclusion as a beginning place for developing strategies for meaningful engagement in community responses to homelessness. Three themes emerged as central to developing inclusionary policy: roots of social exclusion, towards social inclusion and creating social inclusion. First, the roots of social exclusion associated with homelessness are located in unequal power relations, highlighting contextual factors that produce exclusion with implications for health and well-being. Second, towards social inclusion, reflects theoretical perspectives and principles that have been used to inform inclusionary practices. Third, creating inclusion highlights some strategies that can support inclusion for people experiencing homelessness and foster development of inclusionary policy.
There is little evidence of effective practices that promote social inclusion or attention to specific strategies that engage diverse homeless populations that account for gender, ethnicity and other important differences. A key next step is the development of guidelines for social inclusion at the organizational and municipal levels of decision-making with those impacted by homelessness.