This theme explores the experiences, needs and perspectives of the most vulnerable and excluded groups in the housing market (such as homeless people, those fleeing domestic violence, new migrants, young people, ex-offenders, people with substance misuse problems, and those at risk of losing their home through anti-social behaviour).
An extensive programme of work has focused on 'street culture' activities, for example, rough sleeping, begging, street drinking, street prostitution, and 'survival' crimes (such as shoplifting). The ethical basis for 'interventionist' service approaches which seek to change homeless people's lifestyles has been a key research focus, as well as the use of social control mechanisms (such as ASBOs) to 'manage' street populations. A parallel stream of work focuses on the statutory homelessness framework in the UK, and 'rights-based' approaches to housing and homelessness more broadly across Europe and elsewhere in the developed world. Other topics on which I-SPHERE researchers are playing a key role in international collaborations include homelessness prevention and 'Housing First' approaches to provide help to homeless people with complex needs (such as substance misuse). I-SPHERE researchers have extensive experience of institutional and policy analysis in this field, including international comparative research on approaches to tackling the needs of homeless families, single people, rough sleepers, young people, and migrants. A recent and growing area of interest is the role of faith-based organisations in addressing homelessness and housing need.
These studies of homelessness and social exclusion have encompassed a range of methodologies including quantitative surveys, focus groups, in-depth interviews and longitudinal techniques. Much of our recent work in this area has been funded by the ESRC and AHRC, but other funders have included the European Commission, DCLG, Scottish Government and a range of leading charities such as the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Crisis and Centrepoint.