Purpose – There is much current policy and practitioner enthusiasm for using social enterprise to tackle the problems faced by homeless people. However, there is no evidence base to support (or negate) this policy focus. The purpose of this paper is to identify the different ways in which social enterprise responds to the needs of homeless people, and some of the challenges faced by social enterprises in the homelessness field.
Design/methodology/approach – Desk-based research of the grey literature identified different models of social enterprise in the homelessness field. A review of the two sets of literature on homelessness and social enterprise was conducted to identify the implications of these models for homeless people.
Findings – Six models of social enterprise in the homelessness field are identified. Social enterprise involves balancing social and economic objectives. As third sector organisations become more business focused, there is a risk that those homeless people with the most complex or acute needs are abandoned as they are not profitable to work with.
Originality/value – This paper is the first to bring together two sets of literature in order to identify how social enterprise responds to homelessness. The paper is of use to policy makers aiming to develop targeted approaches to tackling homelessness. It is also of use to organisations in the homelessness field looking to develop social enterprise models.