A European perspective on (Youth) Homelessness and the

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Comparing Rights-based and Non Rightsbased Approaches to Homelessness:
A comparison of Scotland and the Republic of Ireland
Beth Watts
Centre for Housing Policy
University of York
European Research Conference
Access to Housing for Homeless People in Europe
York, 21st September 2012
Alternative approaches
Scotland – rights based
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1977 UK-wide legislation established an
enforceable legal right to settled
accommodation for ‘priority need’ homeless
households
Discharge of duty mainly into social rented
tenancy
Homelessness Task Force established in
1999-2002
Landmark legislation in 2001/2003
Phasing out of ‘priority need’ category by
2012
Scottish Executive received Human Rights
Award in recognition of these reforms
Ireland – social partnership
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Approach developed since the mid 1990s in
response to failure of 1988 Housing Act
Homelessness Initiative (statutory/voluntary
partnership) established in 1996 to
coordinate services across Dublin
Cross Departmental Team on
Homelessness (1998-2000) consulted and
published Homelessness – An integrated
Strategy in 2000
Stakeholder negotiation and deliberation: a
problem solving and consensual approach
to ratchet up of standards
Homeless forums involving voluntary and
statutory organizations to coordinate
services
Sustained political will and significant
investment (€53.4m in 2011)
European Research Conference
Access to Housing for Homeless People in Europe
York, 21st September 2012
Research questions
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Do legal rights to housing for homeless households
ameliorate the stigma that can be associated with
accessing statutory services targeted at specific ‘needy’
groups?
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Do legal rights to housing for homeless households
mean that those in greatest need access suitable
housing?
European Research Conference
Access to Housing for Homeless People in Europe
York, 21st September 2012
Method: Comparative qualitative research
Rights based
approach
Republic of Ireland
Social Partnership
approach
Policy makers (3)
Voluntary sector (5)
Academics (2)
Policy makers (5)
Voluntary sector (4)
Academics (4)
Scotland
National key
informant
interviews
10
13
Local case
studies
Edinburgh
Dublin
Local
Informants
interviews
Local authority staff
(7)
Voluntary sector (3)
Local authority staff (7)
Voluntary sector (2)
10
Service user Single homeless men Single homeless men
European Research Conference
interviews Access to Housing for Homeless People
11 in Europe
York, 21st September 2012
9
15
Stigma
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RBA minimise stigma by casting homeless people as
‘rights bearers’ with entitlements rather than recipients of
charity or state largesse.
Social rights create a uniform status of citizenship that
binds members of a community together with a common
identity (Marshall, 1950)
Universal versus selective rights: legal rights to housing
are targeted, selective and conditional.
Selective approaches in liberal welfare regimes are
stigmatising. Legalistic safety nets differentiate, assess
and supervise welfare recipients (Bengtsson, 2001)
European Research Conference
Access to Housing for Homeless People in Europe
York, 21st September 2012
Stigma (Link and Phelan, 2001)
Conceptualisation based on the convergence or
co-occurrence of six inter-related components
 Labelling
 Stereotyping
 Separation
 Status Loss
 Discrimination
 A power situation
European Research Conference
Access to Housing for Homeless People in Europe
York, 21st September 2012
Stigma: Status Loss
Edinburgh Service Users
Dublin Service Users
“everybody’s entitled to help, it doesn’t
matter if your poor or what country you
come from, you’re always entitled to
help, there’s help available if you need”
(Edinburgh Service User, CC1)
“B: Do you feel that that’s help that you’re
entitled to or just that you’ve being done a good
turn, done a favour?
A: No, um, I kind of feel well, they’re doing their
job, you know? To the best of their ability and if
they can help, they will. So they do what they
can, when they can. If they don’t have the time,
they’ll tell you, you know? So they’re good.”
(Dublin Service User, BL4)
“Everybody in Britain has a right to
accommodation, I mean we’re not living
in a third world country, do you know
what I mean? And… society is wrong
where people sleep on the street, eh,
yeah I think that everybody has a right
to be housed, especially in a country
that has the wealth…there’s a lot of
wealth in Britain, so, I think it’s
ridiculous that people are homeless.”
(Edinburgh Service User, CC2)
“B: looking back at the help you’ve had over the
last few years, do you think that’s help you’re
entitled to or do you feel that they were just
doing you a favour…?
A: I’m not special, so I don’t expect people to do
this and do that… they’re very helpful people and
they’re all experienced, in every individual case,
they’ve seen it all before, but I’m not special, so
it’s a kind of a balance, you have to put as much
as you can in. You know? It’s fifty fifty.” (Dublin
Service User, BL3)
European Research Conference
Access to Housing for Homeless People in Europe
York, 21st September 2012
Entitlement or gratitude?
“People are often expected to be grateful when their needs are
met; this is not the case when people’s rights are met. This
reminds us not to campaign for ‘the needy’, but rather to support
marginalized peple as equal human beings in their efforts to
claim their rights and address the poverty, suffering and injustice
in their lives” (Kenna, 2011, p572)
“a depressed sense of entitlement among members of low-status
groups may prevent members of low-status groups from seeing
when they are targets of discrimination (Major et al., 2002) and
reduce the likelihood that they will engage in collective action to
challenge the distribution of social goods (Crosby, 1982; Hafer &
Olson, 1993). In this way, group differences in feelings of
personal entitlement serve to perpetuate and maintain social
inequality.” (Jost, Kay an Thurisdottir, 2009, p430)
European Research Conference
Access to Housing for Homeless People in Europe
York, 21st September 2012
Legitimate entitlement
“What we’re finding now, even within the temporary accommodation,
people will complain about the fact that there’s not a telly in the room, I
prefer a microwave to a cooker, you know, there’s no breakfast being
supplied, so it can set up additional challenges to a provider like the
council in relation to meeting the needs of an individual, and then if we go
in and say well actually we’re only statutorily obliged to provide you with
this, if we get ourselves into that defensive position we’ve just lost
everything we’ve tried to gain… What we’re trying to do is move ourselves
away from that and deal with individual, and if they have issues then try
and deal with them, but there are some unrealistic expectations there.”
(Edinburgh local informant)
“actually if there’s a view in other parts of Scotland that people [service
users] are getting a bit more angsty, then fantastic!” (Scottish Key
Informant 5)
“maybe, because it means people can’t be downtrodden and exploited, so
from that point of view yes” (Scottish Key Informant 3)
European Research Conference
Access to Housing for Homeless People in Europe
York, 21st September 2012
Attitudes to Temporary Accommodation
Dublin Service Users
Edinburgh Service Users
“Yeah, where I am here, is
perfect.” (Dublin Service User,
BL5)
“It just feels like I’m in limbo, I can’t do
anything, every day that goes past is
just like a waste, cos I could’ve been
doing something more constructive.”
(Edinburgh Service User, CC3)
“this is like excellent… you can
play pool, and snooker and stuff
like that, and that’s where people
get together out there… So I’m
here and I’m glad to be here…it’s
a good place to get breathing
space, yeah, yeah, so yeah. I
can’t knock it really. Staff are
great you know.” (Dublin Service
User, BL2)
“B: So some people say when they’re
in temporary accommodation it feels
like life’s on hold. Does that sound
right?
A: Well, I think that’s sorta it, it sortey
does, or can, cos like I say I’m just
champing at the bit, ready to go.”
(Edinburgh Service User, CC5)
European Research Conference
Access to Housing for Homeless People in Europe
York, 21st September 2012
Access to settled housing - Vignette
A 24 year old man has been asked to leave
by the friends he’s staying with. He has a
history of drug use and mental health
issues, has spent time in prison and
exhausted friends and family as a source of
accommodation.
European Research Conference
Access to Housing for Homeless People in Europe
York, 21st September 2012
Scotland
Ireland
Need to access settled housing prioritised:
owed a full statutory duty to settled
accommodation and likely to be allocated a
social housing tenancy with support
Balancing multiple objectives; access determined
through discretion of housing managers and key
workers
“[there are a] range of issues there which are
going to impact on his ability to find and sustain
accommodation” (Edinburgh Local Informant)
“if somebody was in that situation, a single
homeless male, or anyone else, however
difficult it is for us backstage behind the
scenes, they always get people what they
need, we never turn people away, we never
say sorry we can’t help you. And within that,
whatever our case loads are like, we make
absolutely every effort to re-house them”
(Edinburgh local informant)
“The concern for us in allocations is, would he be
capable of independent living? …we wouldn’t give a
unit where we felt he wasn’t able to look after himself”
“he’s still young, he still wants to enjoy life, so he’s not
stable”
“the [police] check everybody before we put them into
standard social housing, and a lot of them because of
their past would raise alarm bells … it’s a judgement
call on the given manager to decide”
“If you were putting them into a high demand area and
the residents are very active the manager has to say
‘no, I can’t take him… but I would consider him down
the road where residents are not as active’.”
“a couple of specific areas in Dublin that have a
disproportionately high level of social housing, so
there are times then when the housing manager will
say look, you need to pepper-pot it more around”
European Research Conference
Access to Housing for Homeless People in Europe
York, 21st September 2012
Gratitude for services
Discretionary assistance
Unconditional assistance
IrishIreland
service users
Social Injustice /
Solidaristic
Personal responsibility
/ Individualistic
Conditional rights
Unconditional rights
Scotland
Entitlement to services
European Research Conference
Access to Housing for Homeless People in Europe
York, 21st September 2012
Summary
On the basis of this study, rights based approaches appear to:
weakening the stigma of experiences of homelessness by casting
service users as rights bearers with legitimate entitlements (countering
status loss)
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Altering the experience of being a homeless service user
Driving up expectations about standards of support and temporary
accommodation
Helping establish these demands as legitimate among service providers
Crowding
out non-housing needs related considerations in gaining
access to settled housing
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Discretionary versus rule bound
Blunt but effective
European Research Conference
Access to Housing for Homeless People in Europe
York, 21st September 2012
Conclusions: which system is ‘better’?
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Desert versus Need:
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If a needs-based response to homelessness is sought, rights based
approaches offer distinct advantages
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“merit of any sort should only be allowed to govern the distribution of a certain range of
goods and services, and in particular not those goods and services that people regard as
necessities” (Miller, 1996: 300)
Housing as foundational to human functioning: Doyal and Gough (1991); Nussbaum (1999);
King (2003)
Scotland: statutory system as blunt but effective tool
Ireland: Balancing plural policy objectives, but inertia in homelessness services
Are ‘insiders’ those in the greatest housing need?
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Homelessness as one kind of housing need
Housing need as a continuum (not as simple as homeless and non-homeless)
These tensions are magnified in areas of housing stress and where social housing turnover
is low
European Research Conference
Access to Housing for Homeless People in Europe
York, 21st September 2012
Final thoughts
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Licensing, inspection
and monitoring
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A virtuous circle?
The role of political
culture?
Scotland’s Rights
Based Approach
Service user attitudes
and behavior
Culture of service
provision
Higher expectations and sense
of legitimate entitlement
Needs crowd out other
concerns
European Research Conference
Access to Housing for Homeless People in Europe
York, 21st September 2012