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Implications of Housing Status and Informal Networks for Homeless Strategies
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Implications of Housing Status and Informal Networks for Homeless Strategies

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Presentation given by Joe Doherty, Iain Atherton and Maria Stuttaford, University of St Andrews, Scotland at a FEANTSA Research Conference on "Rethinking Homelessness Policies", Lisbon, Portugal, 2007

Presentation given by Joe Doherty, Iain Atherton and Maria Stuttaford, University of St Andrews, Scotland at a FEANTSA Research Conference on "Rethinking Homelessness Policies", Lisbon, Portugal, 2007

Published in: Health & Medicine

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  • Ky points- Background to HOMAR
  • Key points- Aim of the paper to create discussion Based on small scale qualitative study-limited generalisability BUT important theoretical ideas developing
  • Social networks are very important to our daily lives Negative dimensions to social networks previously noted (ie Putnam notes that Timothy McVeigh was assisted by bowling with others. Putnam distinguishes between bonding and bridging Bonding brings people in similar geographical areas/with similar identities closer together. Bridging helps people link into different groups/cross divides Possibly useful for understanding the interactions between social networks, housing and substance misuse.
  • The study location- Fife a diverse area- Amongst most expensive housing in Scotland (St Andrews) And the least expensive in the UK (Lochgelly) Very rural areas, areas restructuring after industrial decline, new town. Affluent and deprived areas Homelessness and substance misuse found across the ‘Kingdom’
  • Homelessness is a vector by which substance misuse can spread. In this quote a female respond describes how providing a homeless acquaintance to stay under her roof led to her developing a drug habit.
  • Homelessness is a vector by which substance misuse can spread. In this quote a female respond describes how providing a homeless acquaintance to stay under her roof led to her developing a drug habit.
  • Strategies used to find shelter include using the houses of friends. If friends are substance misusing, perhaps even pushing drugs, then the person’s own use will be perpetuated.
  • Strategies used to find shelter include using the houses of friends. If friends are substance misusing, perhaps even pushing drugs, then the person’s own use will be perpetuated.
  • Accommodation provided to the homeless brings them into contact with others who are substance misusing, make ceasing drug using very difficult.
  • Accommodation provided to the homeless brings them into contact with others who are substance misusing, make ceasing drug using very difficult.
  • Service providers also perceive social networks to be important dimensions to the contexts that support and perpetuate drug use. Notes taken during an interview with a service provider give some insight into the idea that relocating is a strategy that can work.
  • Service providers also perceive social networks to be important dimensions to the contexts that support and perpetuate drug use. Notes taken during an interview with a service provider give some insight into the idea that relocating is a strategy that can work.
  • But such a policy has limitations given that social networks have crucial functions. Also, if a person remains homeless, they are likely to find themselves in similar situations as previously, and so develop social networks in which drug use figures.
  • But such a policy has limitations given that social networks have crucial functions. Also, if a person remains homeless, they are likely to find themselves in similar situations as previously, and so develop social networks in which drug use figures.
  • Mobility is seen by some as being ways in which they can stay away from the hostels/areas where substance misusing is rife. Two respondents tell of the importance of bus tickets.
  • Mobility is seen by some as being ways in which they can stay away from the hostels/areas where substance misusing is rife. Two respondents tell of the importance of bus tickets.
  • Even becoming homeless can lead to damaging social networks being broken.
  • Even becoming homeless can lead to damaging social networks being broken.
  • Links between homelessness and substance misuse are potentially a very powerful message with which to mobilise resources and opinion. In the shorter term (and more realistically?) there are policy lessons-the importance of bus tickets for example Hostels should be viewed with some caution. Wright et al point out that for those not trying to stop substance misusing there are safety dimensions to being with others should an overdose occur. However, they should not be seen as long term solutions to people’s housing problems especially for those wanting to stop using. Provision of scatter flats that assists people to move away from others who are substance misusing may be important. Provision of housing in itself may not be enough. Relocating people to different areas might provide a means by which social networks can be influenced by policy makers…
  • Transcript

    • 1. Centre for Housing Research University of St Andrews Housing status, social supportnetworks and substance misuse Dr Iain Atherton Dr Maria Stuttaford Professor Joe Doherty
    • 2. Overview• Research question• Methods• Results• policy implications
    • 3. Housing ready vs Housing First• Housing Ready 1.Substance misusing/mental health 2.Once stabilised, then house• Housing First (Tsemberis et al, 2004) 1.Housing 2.Services available - no compulsion
    • 4. Outcomes of Housing First• Outcomes – Higher service use – Stability of accommodation – Declining drug use for those with co- morbidities – Greater service engagement (though proportions substance misusing largely unchanged)
    • 5. What’s missing?Stable housing Substance use Social networks
    • 6. Social networks• Positives – Friendship – Practical support• Negatives 1. Initiation of substance misusing 2. Perpetration of substance misusing 3. Prevention of exit from substance misusing
    • 7. Methods• Small scale longitudinal qualitative study – – 11 participants – 22 in-depth interviews – recruitment through service providers/drop in centres – Interviews attempted every 4-5 weeks – Participatory observation of hostels/service providers
    • 8. Findings:(1) Initiation of substance use
    • 9. Interviewee• Alix• Age – early 30s• Housing status – Currently in stable accommodation on methadone – Previously homeless and using heroin
    • 10. [I started using heroin] cause I’d let one of myfriends stay with me… because they’d nowhereelse to stay …and I’d never seen it before in mylife…didn’t ever want…to…be anywhere near it,but because, well I let my friend stay, theybrought it into my house and then it was like, justtry this, so I tried it and then… you end up with ahabit …so that’s how I ended up using.
    • 11. [I started using heroin] cause I’d let one of myfriends stay with me… because they’d nowhereelse to stay …and I’d never seen it before in mylife…didn’t ever want…to…be anywhere near it,but because, well I let my friend stay, theybrought it into my house and then it was like, justtry this, so I tried it and then… you end up with ahabit …so that’s how I ended up using.
    • 12. Findings:(2) Perpetuation of substanceusing
    • 13. Interviewee• Matt• Age – late 20s• Housing status – Homeless (living with friends)• Substance misusing – regularly using heroin
    • 14. Right, well, I stay with a friend just noo… em…Iget up in the morning, well I get wakened up inthe morning with my friend, and he’s got a…handing me a needle wi’ kit in it, ken, for ma’…breakfast really…
    • 15. Right, well, I stay with a friend just noo… em…Iget up in the morning, well I get wakened up inthe morning with my friend, and he’s got a…handing me a needle wi’ kit in it, ken, for ma’…breakfast really…
    • 16. Interviewee• David• Age – mid-30s• Housing status – Hostel• Substance misuse – Currently not using heroin after years of use
    • 17. [I share a flat] up the stair, with two other people. And one, two in fact are drug users. With metrying to come off drugs…it’s in my face all thetime, ken what I mean…basically. Ninetypercent of people in here use. They either dodrugs or drink, one of the two…don’t think thereis a straight person in here.
    • 18. [I share a flat] up the stair, with two other people. And one, two in fact are drug users. With metrying to come off drugs…it’s in my face all thetime, ken what I mean…basically. Ninetypercent of people in here use. They either dodrugs or drink, one of the two…don’t think thereis a straight person in here.
    • 19. Notes from an interview• Elspeth• Service Provider
    • 20. Geography figures prominently at one point inour conversation. Without any prompting, [Theservice provider] suddenly claims that nobodywill cease substance misuse whilst continuing tolive in their home town, especially in the [exmining community] area.“…its too hard remaining in the same community[to stop drug using]”
    • 21. Geography figures prominently at one point inour conversation. Without any prompting, [Theservice provider] suddenly claims that nobodywill cease substance misuse whilst continuing tolive in their home town, especially in the [exmining community] area.“…its too hard remaining in the same community[to stop drug using]”
    • 22. (3) Prevention of exit
    • 23. Elspeth the service provider-Such a strategy [relocating] is not alwayssuccessful; she quotes an example where theindividuals concerned linked into new local drugnetworks. Similarly, relocating is difficult wherea person cannot access drugs, something thatwould enforce immediate stopping; a step thatwould be problematic and is often counseledagainst.
    • 24. Elspeth the service provider-Such a strategy [relocating] is not alwayssuccessful; she quotes an example where theindividuals concerned linked into new local drugnetworks. Similarly, relocating is difficult wherea person cannot access drugs, something thatwould enforce immediate stopping; a step thatwould be problematic and is often counseledagainst.
    • 25. David-[my treatment officer] gives me a weekly buspass…to get me out of here, because I’ve toldthem what its like here. To get me out so I’m notin a position to get drugs, you know what Imean.
    • 26. David-[my treatment officer] gives me a weekly buspass… to get me out of here, because I’ve toldthem what its like here. To get me out so I’m notin a position to get drugs, you know what Imean.
    • 27. Interviewee• Paul• Age – mid-30s• Housing status – Recently made homeless – now in hostel• Substance misusing – Drug free for two months
    • 28. Iain- …would you have been able to get away fromdrugs without making that move?Paul- Nuh. [said without any hesitation and quiteassertively]…Iain- What would have happened if you hadn’t beenevicted but you still got all this support?Paul- …I reckon I would have still been the same,because I don’t think I’ve got the strength to say to mymates, beat it, your no coming back here, ken sort oflike… I don’t know why because they are my mates butat the end of the day they’re, they’re no ma mates if youknow what I mean, ken because basically they’re usingma house as somewhere to have a jag…I don’t think I’dbe able to do it maself…but with the support that I’vegot…been able to move, get a change of life, you know.
    • 29. Iain- …would you have been able to get away fromdrugs without making that move?Paul- Nuh. [said without any hesitation and quiteassertively]…Iain- What would have happened if you hadn’t beenevicted but you still got all this support?Paul- …I reckon I would have still been the same,because I don’t think I’ve got the strength to say to mymates, beat it, your no coming back here, ken sort oflike… I don’t know why because they are my mates butat the end of the day they’re, they’re no ma mates if youknow what I mean, ken because basically they’re usingma house as somewhere to have a jag… I don’t think I’dbe able to do it maself…but with the support that I’vegot…been able to move, get a change of life, you know.
    • 30. Policy• Prevent homelessness• Assisting with daily geographic mobility• Geographically sensitive housing programmes – Caution with hostel use (Wright et al. 2005) – Location of re-housing• Relocation?
    • 31. ConclusionHousing First might have more effect iflinked to helping people to rebuild theirsocial networks