Longitudinal Research into and With Former Homeless Persons
Recurring homelessness points towards major problems in stable rehousing and reintegration. In fact, it has been shown that approximately 50 percent of night shelter and emergency accommodation residents have resided there before.  In Utrecht, the Netherlands, the University of Amsterdam, municipality, and NGOs have joined forces to address this issue by formulating additional work methodologies and following homeless people’s journey.

For five years (2019-2024) we yearly follow the journeys of 60 participants yearly. At baseline (T0), twenty interviews are held with participants who have a history of recurrent homelessness (episodic homelessness). Those interviews are  retrospective in nature, trying to identify the factors that have led those participants to lose their house again. The other forty interviews are conducted with participants who reside in social relief or protected housing and are expected to transition to independent housing within the next eight months. Here, interviews are prospective in nature, as partiicpants discuss personal expectations about the transition, experiences with care, financial measures, and the social network. The aim is to explore the quality of current support services preparing people for independent housing.

The research is conducted by academic researchers in close collaboration with qualified experts by experience (peer researchers, read more about this peer-to-peer method here). Together they validate topic lists and conduct interviews. In doing so, extensive information is gathered with regards to the lived experiences of service users by asking questions ‘from the inside’. This method enables us to better understand the causes of recurring homelessness, as well as better understand what is needed for successful transitions to independent housing. Yearly, our results are also used to improve the municipal and NGO policy instruments and methodologies, enhance server user experiences, prevent individuals from experiencing long or repeated episodes of homelessness, and contribute to developing stable housing options. This innovative research method provides important insights for other researchers to replicate.

Reports about the yearly measures and outcomes are written in Dutch. Interested in information about academic output on this topic? Please email Dr. Nienke Boesveldt: n.f.boesveldt@uva.nl