Preventing Recurring Homelessness: Longitudinal Research into and With Former Homeless Persons
Recurring Homelessness points towards major problems in stable rehousing and reintegration. Repeatedly it has been shown how 50 percent of residents of night shelters and emergency accommodation have resided there before. Now, in Utrecht (The Netherlands), University, Municipality and NGO’s join forces to address recurrent homelessness. The latter have formulated additional work-methodologies and the University follows the pathways of homeless persons.
For five years (2019-2024) we yearly follow the pathways of 60 participants. We hold interviews with 20 participants that are currently homeless and have a previous history of homelessness (episodic homelessness). Those interviews are of retrospective nature, trying to identify the factors that have led those participants to lose their house again. The other 40 interviews with participants residing in social relief or protected housing, and that are expected to transition to independent housing within the next eight months, are of prospective nature. We discuss personal expectations about the transition, experiences with care, financial measures and the social network to explore the quality of current support services preparing people for independent housing.
The research is conducted by both university researchers and in close collaboration with qualified experts by experience. Together, we validate topic lists and conduct interviews. As a result, extensive information is gathered about the lived experiences of service users, also by asking questions ‘from the inside’. This method enables us to better understand the causes of recurring homeless episodes and the experienced needs for successful transitions to independent housing. Yearly, our results are also used to improve the Municipal and NGO policy-instruments and methodologies, to enhance server user experiences and to prevent individuals from recurrent homelessness episodes and to contribute to stable housing. This innovative research method provides important insights for other researchers to replicate.