Homelessness Pathways and Capabilities: a Study of the Lived Experiences of the Hidden Homeless in Private Hostels in Newcastle-upon-Tyne

Irving, Adele (2018) Homelessness Pathways and Capabilities: a Study of the Lived Experiences of the Hidden Homeless in Private Hostels in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Doctoral thesis, Northumbria University.

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While traditionally described as the ‘wobbly pillar’ of welfare states, housing has long been considered the ‘saving grace’ of welfare in the UK. However, decades of neoliberalism and more recently, economic crisis, austerity and welfare reform, have undermined the statutory and voluntary sector support available to those unable to access and sustain decent accommodation for themselves. As such, the modern private rented sector (PRS) is playing an increasing role in meeting the housing needs of single homeless and other vulnerable households. However, there has been relatively little research focusing on the entry of these households into the sector and their experiences within it.

In this context, this study provides a purposive and rigorous investigation of the ‘lived experiences’ of individuals residing in private hostels in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Employing an interpretivist and qualitative research approach, data was principally collected through in-depth, semi-structured – and partly, life history – interviews with 13 private hostel residents and 23 local stakeholders. The concept of ‘homelessness pathways’ and the Capability Approach were the key analytical tools used.

The study identifies that the residents interviewed were ‘single’ or ‘hidden’ homeless individuals. Their pathways into homelessness were typically underpinned by one dominant factor (financial crisis, family breakdown, substance misuse, poor mental health or childhood trauma); these pathways were characterised by different levels of complexity. Critically, it was found that living in the properties had diverse impacts on the residents’ wellbeing (and specifically, their exercise of central functions), despite the hostels having similar objective conditions. Broadly speaking, those who experienced the least complex pathways into homelessness seemed to lead reasonably ‘well-lived’ lives within the properties, while those who experienced the most complex pathways did not. The pathways lens proved to have limited explanatory value on its own. However, it was much more helpful when considered alongside other factors such as the nature of the residents’ social networks, their relationship with substances and the degree of ‘fit’ between their needs and wants from the hostels and the hostel attributes.

The overarching original and significant contributions of the study are firstly, an understanding of the factors affecting the diversity of private hostel residents’ experiences of wellbeing and secondly, the development of a robust, person-centred and flexible model for the holistic evaluation of ‘lived experiences’ within specific housing contexts. The research also has several homelessness policy and practice implications.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: L300 Sociology
L900 Others in Social studies
Department: Faculties > Arts, Design and Social Sciences > Social Sciences
University Services > Graduate School > Doctor of Philosophy
Depositing User: Paul Burns
Date Deposited: 11 Jun 2019 09:25
Last Modified: 31 Jul 2021 22:30
URI: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/39637

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