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Understanding iterative homelessness: the case of people with mental disorders


Robinson, C, Understanding iterative homelessness: the case of people with mental disorders, Final report, Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute, Australia, pp. 1-46. (2003) [Government or Industry Research]

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In a context of growing alarm about the large amount of homeless people with mental disorders, this research project aims to examine the experiences of those whose accommodation histories or biographies are marked by repeated or iterative homelessness. The term ‘iterative homelessness’ is used in the research to indicate a specific focus on trajectories of unstable and often unsafe accommodation constituted by constant movement through many different forms of accommodation, from rough sleeping to private rental to imprisonment. The aim of the research is to develop a better understanding of the range of factors underpinning this instability in the lives of homeless people with mental disorders.

Working closely with staff in accommodation and support services targeting homeless men and women, fieldwork teams surveyed 185 people with mental disorders and carried out 28 in-depth interviews focusing on more detailed individual accommodation histories. Fieldwork took place in both Sydney and Brisbane and included men (60%) and women (40%) aged 14- 63. The surveys and interviews focused on identifying the range of issues faced by homeless people with mental disorders, the supports people had, the different forms of accommodation moved through, the positives and negatives of particular places, the reasons for leaving accommodation, and the main barriers perceived to stand in the way of more stable accommodation.

In a context in which policy makers at national and state level are working towards the development and implementation of ‘whole-of-government’ responses to homelessness more generally, the documentation of range of issues contributing to repeated homelessness is critical. This research presents useful data as well as develops a conceptual framework for both understanding and responding to the dual contexts of homelessness and mental disorders.

Item Details

Item Type:Government or Industry Research
Keywords:homelessness, mental illness, trauma
Research Division:Human Society
Research Group:Sociology
Research Field:Urban sociology and community studies
Objective Division:Law, Politics and Community Services
Objective Group:Community services
Objective Field:Homelessness and housing services
UTAS Author:Robinson, C (Associate Professor Catherine Robinson)
ID Code:149811
Year Published:2003
Deposited By:Sociology and Criminology
Deposited On:2022-04-14
Last Modified:2022-04-14

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