Relationship breakdown and homelessness prevention

Homeless prevention | Preston City Council

relationship breakdown and homelessness prevention

Our first priority is to prevent you from losing your home so the earlier you get in If you are threatened with homelessness due to a relationship breakdown. There are various reasons why people lose their home or face the threat of homelessness, such as loss of job or reduction in income, relationship breakdown. Homelessness Prevention. Are you threatened with homelessness? Family or relationship breakdown; Rent arrears; Landlord issues; Property disrepair.

We also do not accept that rough sleeping is a valid life-style choice. At the last estimated count in November53 people were rough sleeping in Luton. The impact of rough sleeping on communities is significant and we will therefore be assertive in offering opportunities and support to people to enable them to access and retain housing and employment We began working on this strategy by consulting with partners, the voluntary sector and customers.

The outcomes from our consultation have informed the development of this strategy and action plan. The LIF clearly defines the opportunities that exist in Luton and will be delivered by We have set ourselves ambitious targets but recognise we must continuously evolve if we are to ensure that Luton is proud, innovative and ambitious. There are of course many causes of homelessness. A report from the Communities and Local Government Committee relays that the causes of homelessness can be divided into structural or societal, and those that are individual or personal.

Both may contribute in individual cases as personal problems can often be exacerbated by the structural challenges of the housing system. Effective intervention requires a range of solutions that are not just about providing accommodation. Investment in services that prevent homelessness has benefits for the health and wellbeing of our residents, and the prospects of our children and young people.

Targeting the root causes of homelessness and finding ways to address those causes will support individuals and households to make informed decisions and exercise choice to secure positive life outcomes and deal with their housing needs. This means going beyond the quality provision of timely, realistic and practical advice to early interventions at a point in time before an imminent crisis ie prevention.

We will ensure local services, including those delivered directly by Luton Council and LCCG are designed to proactively identify opportunities to support residents at the earliest possible stage in order to prevent individuals and families becoming homeless.

As part of this, Luton Council will ensure that constructive and positive learning from the pilot prevention service, which has been developed within the homelessness service, is fully embedded into our mainstream response.

A third of the women reported physical or sexual assault during an episode of homelessness. Women with histories of childhood abuse were much more likely to become homeless during childhood, and those who had been both physically and sexually abused during childhood were more than 15 times more likely than non-abused women to experience homelessness prior to the age of The combination of childhood abuse and the lack of outside social and financial support can put young women at high risk for homelessness and also be a precursor to mental health problems.

Dynamics of Family Violence and Homelessness Family violence is disproportionately a phenomenon of youth. As victims and offenders, the rates are highest for those between the ages of 18 and Males are more likely than females to be offenders, and females are more likely than males to be victims of physically injurious assaults.

In societies around the world, the greater the inequality between men and women and the greater the degree of social disorganization, the higher the rate of assaults against wives.

While family violence occurs in all social and economic groups, the risk of child abuse, wife abuse and elder abuse is greater among those who are poor or unemployed or holding low-prestige jobs.

  • Families under pressure: Preventing Family Breakdown & Youth Homelessness
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As well, those with fewer resources and more stress are more likely to use violence Gelles Homelessness and housing unaffordability are also predominantly problems of the young Novac et al. Those conditions cause a high level of stress and increase the likelihood of being victimized. As the above review of research findings indicates, the relationship between family violence and housing status is complex.

Clearly, housing problems, such as crowding and unaffordable costs, are linked to household stress and can contribute to abusive behaviour within the family Pauktuutit Inuit Women's Association It is therefore not surprising that women living in urban public housing experience a greater rate of violence from intimates than do other women DeKeseredy et al.

The role of housing in preventing or addressing family violence is multi-faceted and fundamental Weisz et al. Unequal power — economic, physical and social — within society and within family or household relations plays a role in determining whether family conflict and violence occur, who abuses whom, and what access to alternative housing will be available.

Various policies and institutions are implicated in these dynamics. Bufkin and Bray argued that a weak response to family violence on the part of the criminal justice system is a crucial intervening variable related to homelessness. Cumberland has suggested that those made homeless because of family violence should be seen as distinct, in that their homelessness is the result of a crime committed against them, and that governments should be concerned about this as a distinct justice imperative.

Gardiner and Cairns identified several policy orientations and institutional practices that can ameliorate outcomes of homelessness. They include child protection and child care services access to good quality child care, early intervention in cases of abuse and neglect, and improved effectiveness of the foster care system and spousal violence legislation to facilitate removal of the abusive partner from the home, to ensure consistent law enforcement.

Health and housing agencies also shape paths to homelessness for victims of family violence and affect how victims achieve safety, recovery and housing stability. In their review of Canadian research on woman abuse, DeKeseredy and Hinch noted that subsidized housing and short-term emergency shelter are required to prevent continued female victimization by male partners and to promote women's safety, autonomy and self-reliance.

Because women's access to housing is largely dependent on their position in families Novacwhen marital relationships break down, the economic consequences are considerably different for them than for men.

After divorce, the poverty rate among women increases almost threefold. Single women and single mothers account for almost half of households with affordability problems CMHC Discrimination in labour and housing markets has not been eliminated, especially for Aboriginal and other racial minority women. Such socio-economic inequalities affect the power dynamics within family relationships. Dependent members are under pressure to stay because of their inability to afford alternate housing, and this can fuel more conflict.

Since the early s, the battered women's movement in Canada and other countries has stressed that the lack of affordable housing is a barrier that prevents abused women and their children from "moving on" after shelter stays OAITH, ; Walker ; Schechter The economic inability of women to set up independent households plays a clear role in their decisions to stay with or return to abusive partners. Homelessness is not resolved for women by having a roof over her head unless this roof is accompanied by a sense of safety and security" Neal1.

Breton and Bunston found a dramatic reduction in the rates of physical and sexual assault experienced by homeless women in comparison to those in their prior living situations. Temporary homelessness and supportive, safe shelters can provide a much-needed temporary respite for women and children facing harsh, ongoing realities of poverty, partner abuse, victimization and trauma Styron et al.

Clearly, family violence is a trigger or proximate reason for homelessness for a significant proportion of women, youth and children who use shelters a very high proportion of those using family violence and youth shelters, and a smaller but possibly increasing proportion of those using homeless shelters. The dynamics of family violence can contribute to poverty as well as financial and social vulnerability. Men who abuse their wives or partners commonly also restrict their social relationships with friends and other family members and control their ability to work outside the home; this may contribute to the abused woman having relatively limited social and economic resources available to help her deal with an event of homelessness.

By providing women with housing options, whether or not they use them, their control over their lives is increased and the message that spousal assault will not be tolerated is reinforced" Weisz et al. Implications for Service Provision Most victims of family violence do not seek out services for help.

Findings from a Statistics Canada survey show that most victims seek informal support rather than formal assistance. They tend to stay with friends or relatives and thereby become members of the hidden homeless. There is very little literature that explicitly addresses the implications for service provision with relation to family violence and homelessness or the kinds of service that are most appropriate and effective.

Patterns of Shelter Use The common tendency for women to move into the homes of relatives or friends immediately after a separation may mark the beginning of a spiral into homelessness McCarthy and Simpson A woman may resort to using a shelter only after she has exhausted the good will of family and friends or been evicted after struggling to pay rent that she cannot afford.

In other words, family violence may trigger a series of moves, yet not be the immediate reason for using a shelter. A pattern of temporary stays with friends and family "couch-surfing" is also common among homeless youth Novac et al.

Shelter use and an intermittent pattern of public and hidden homelessness is likely to follow. Most people admitted to shelters in Toronto from to as a result of spousal abuse stayed from five days to six months. The episodically or repetitively homeless are defined as those who entered the shelter system more than five times in one year. One-third of this group were found to be women fleeing abusive partners Toronto7.

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This suggests that about one-third of victims who flee violent homes remain homeless or unstably housed i. In the case of youth, Footnote 13 those who returned to their parents tended to leave the shelter system quickly. However, in cases in which youth were abused by their parents, the most common time pattern was a shelter stay of one month to two years Springer et al. Shelter Service Issues In Toronto, women and children who are victims of family violence are increasingly using homeless shelters.

In the City of Toronto estimated that as many abused women and their children stayed in homeless shelters as in family violence shelters Toronto This trend may be occurring in part because some shelter staff co-operate to accept each others' overflow, and in part because some victims of family violence may prefer to use homeless shelters.

There are several imaginable reasons for this possible preference: On the other hand, many victims of family violence may require benefits and services that are offered only at family violence shelters — most notably the greater security from abusive family members that such shelters provide, and the personal counselling they need to deal with their traumatic experiences.

Homeless shelters are not as likely to be able to provide the same level of safety for victims of family violence. There are documented instances of abusive family members and dating partners pursuing young women who were staying in youth shelters Novac et al.

This is critical, as the likelihood of partner abuse and escalated violence increases for some women who have left their partner. Based on an analysis of more than 1, cases of women killed by their male partners between andGartner and Crawford found several associated risk markers, the primary one being recent separation.

relationship breakdown and homelessness prevention

This risk must be seriously considered in safety planning and service provision. It is not mitigated by the fact that, for many women, becoming homeless is safer than remaining in an abusive relationship.

Similarly, without appropriate counselling and other services to assist women and children to deal with trauma, there is a tendency toward re-victimization, especially among women who have been sexually abused in childhood Wyatt et al. Additional characteristics of homeless shelters that may discourage their use by victims of family violence include: As well, staff must be educated about the dynamics of family violence and homelessness.

Homeless youth tend to prefer to use shelters and other services that are designed for youth rather than adults. The legacy of family violence among homeless youth includes high levels of alienation, mistrust and self-imposed isolation. All of these conditions can contribute to the development of psycho-social impediments, post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.

They also deter homeless youth from seeking help from adults. For these reasons, youth-specific services are required. Currently, however, they are available only in major cities Novac et al. As well, most youth shelters are gender-mixed, which raises additional issues of safety. Young homeless heterosexual women are subject to high levels of sexual exploitation and dating violence while staying in gender-mixed youth shelters Ibid.

Recovery and Mental Health In her research on trauma, Herman emphasized that recovery from family violence victimization is a slow process, "a gradual shift from unpredictable danger to reliable safety, from dissociated trauma to acknowledged memory, and from stigmatized isolation to restored social connection" Herman Both safe shelter and supportive relationships are critical to recovery.

Some researchers have urged service providers to be aware of the effects of family violence among their clientele. For instance, Bassuk and Perloffobserve that "providers and policy makers must be aware of the pervasiveness of childhood sexual abuse and recent partner violence and its relationship to repeated shelter use.

In practice, staff and residents may not quite agree on the service needs of family violence victims, including those who suffer from symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. The residents "demonstrated defensive avoidance, which can hinder engagement in treatment. This suggests that, even for severely traumatized victims, the provision of permanent affordable housing is a prerequisite to the recovery process. When victims are ready to begin healing, the lack of sufficient mental health services covered by public insurance is a major barrier to recovery for both homeless youth and adults.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder PTSD As mentioned above, residents of abused women's shelters have experienced more severe levels of physical, sexual and psychological abuse, and are more likely than other abused women to have suffered a severe injury and feared for their lives Trainor High lifetime rates of both childhood abuse and assault by intimate partners Browne b are associated with both high levels of subsequent PTSD North and Smith and long-term homelessness Goodman et al.

Post-traumatic stress disorder is one of the most common manifestations of traumatic victimization and is likely to coexist with depression and substance abuse Bassuk et al. Compared to poor women who are housed, homeless victims of family violence who suffer PTSD have more chronic health problems and more problematic relationships with health care providers Bassuk et al. Experiences of sexual violence may affect women's capacity for trust-building and subsequent adherence to preventive and ongoing health care plans Goodman et al.

Services for Older Adults Some researchers believe that senior victims of family violence are not generally well served by family violence shelters for several reasons: Services for Homeless Children Most children who accompany their mothers to family violence shelters are between one and four years of age. Shelter staff report that poor self-esteem is the most common problem among these children, followed by behavioural problems, poor social skills, poor school achievement CMHCas well as mental health problems, chronic health issues, substance abuse, malnutrition and related disorders Social Planning and Research Council of B.

Because of limited resources, only some shelters are able to provide any follow-up services to families CMHC Services for Homeless Youth U. Those who were victimized in the home by their parents are more at risk of further victimization while homeless than those who were not Whitbeck and Simons Adolescents who had been both physically and sexually abused within their families exhibit the most severe psychological problems and are at greatest risk for re-victimization Ryan et al.

Whitbeck and Hoyt found that homeless young women who had been sexually abused by an adult caretaker were twice as likely as young men to be re-victimized. Adolescent runaways forced to flee sexual abuse and physical brutality in their families have special emotional needs that set them apart from youth who are escaping overly strict parents or leaving home for other reasons.

They have more severe separation problems, unresolved issues with their parents, and difficulties in their post-runaway relationships Powers et al. According to the "risk amplification" developmental model proposed by Whitbeck and Hoytthe negative effects of early psychological harm from abusive families are amplified while adolescents are on their own. With increasing emotional separation from parents, adolescents become more reliant on peers who provide information and support and help socialize them regarding street survival skills.

relationship breakdown and homelessness prevention

Deviant social networks and high-risk behaviours increase the likelihood of serious re-victimization, leading to assaults and exploitation. Re-victimization and coercive relationships reinforce what they learned in their families. This process is very hard to reverse. Inevitable encounters with the legal system do the same.

For them, more in-depth assessment, treatment and placement services are required and they should be delivered through multi-agency co-ordination and case management of services that are "flexible and forgiving. Programs that focus on training and employment readiness are not appropriate for all homeless youth.

Those who have been traumatized by family violence may not be able to seek or maintain employment until recovery is well under way. Need for Transitional, Supportive and Permanent Housing On a selected day inabout one-quarter of family violence shelters across Canada out of turned away people in need of shelter, usually because the shelter was full Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics A survey of abused women's shelters found that one-quarter identified the need for more shelters.

One-third also identified the need for more second-stage or transitional housing units SPR Associates a.

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Many transitional housing programs have been developed to assist homeless individuals and families. Although program models vary, the concept usually involves temporary provision of housing for a period of three months to three years, in combination with an array of support services. Whether or not transitional housing programs are an appropriate response to homelessness, especially for families with dependent children, their effectiveness is predicated on the availability of affordable move-on housing Ibid.

In its report on homelessness, the City of Toronto identified a need for more supportive housing units permanent, subsidized housing with support services, with no time limit imposed on the duration of stay for several sub-groups of homeless people, including women fleeing abusive relationships Toronto A large study conducted in nine U.

Of all the services offered — education, legal support, childcare, independent housing, job training, employment assistance, independent living skills, assistance in negotiating with the welfare system, etc. Of those women who returned to their former residence and abuser, While employment also protected women, housing was the factor most strongly associated with women's long-term safety and was deemed more effective than criminal justice remedies Webscale and Johnson cited in Pascall et al.

Child Welfare Raychaba criticized the public care system in Canada for creating too much transiency in placement locations and, more importantly, in relationships. He argued that a stable, trusting, long-term relationship with caregivers is what works best for youth in care and what is least available. In Ontario, Crown wards average one change of placement or social worker a year.

relationship breakdown and homelessness prevention

Two-thirds of former Crown wards residing in a large Toronto youth shelter said they had not been prepared for independent living. They were less likely than other homeless youth to have a supportive network of family or friends. This included young women who again came to be involved with the child welfare system later as parents Leslie and Hare Leslie and Hare recommended a review of the Ontario child welfare system's mandatory "aging-out" policy and suggested that contractual service arrangements should be available for former Crown wards up to 21 years of age.

As well, the foster care system often fails to provide children with therapy to help them deal with their familial experiences of abuse and neglect. In a portion of cases, children have experienced further abuse within their foster families or group home residences Roman and Wolfe ; Downing-Orr ; and Zlotnick et al. Special Priority Housing Policies Special priority housing policies for victims of family violence are in effect in various jurisdictions across Canada.

They are intended to quickly re-house family violence victims who become homeless by giving them priority allocations of subsidized housing. Unfortunately, there have been no assessments of their effectiveness in meeting their primary objective or in preventing homelessness.

Families under pressure: Preventing Family Breakdown & Youth Homelessness

In Ontario, where such a policy was adopted insome local housing agencies have reportedly escalated their demands for verification and details of abuse to establish eligibility and have ignored claims that related only to non-physical abuse OAITH Service providers in Australia and Britain have reported similar difficulties with such policies Dillon ; Malos and Hague Davis attributed these shortcomings to several factors, chief among them the lack of consultation with housing staff during the policy's development and inadequate training of staff on the dynamics of wife assault.

In the Ontario Coroner's office held an inquest into the death of Gillian Hadley. She was murdered by her husband after he had been convicted of abusing her and been barred from their home while she was waiting to be re-housed. The inquest identified failings of the Special Priority Policy — in particular, the requirement that the application for housing "should be submitted within three months of separating from her abuser.

Among its many recommendations to the inquest jury, the Ontario Association of Interval and Transition Houses requested removal of the three-month restriction, an audit of housing authorities and agencies to ensure consistent, standardized application of the policy, and provision of a transparent complaint process for subsidized housing applicants.

Family Violence and the Prevention of Homelessness Despite the high rates of family violence in the backgrounds of people who become homeless, Shinn and Baumohl questioned what a program to forestall potential violence would look like.

They argued that, as a form of homelessness prevention, addressing the basic housing issue would be more effective than any efforts to prevent family violence. They acknowledged that risk factors for homelessness could be reduced by universal strategies to prevent family violence by changing norms of acceptable behaviour, punishing perpetrators, and providing support and education to parents and to reduce the need for, and increase the quality of, foster care.

Yet the vast majority of abused and placed children do not become homeless, and benefits for the prevention of homelessness would be very gradual. Identifying families at risk of violence and determining the appropriate interventions pose significant challenges.

Although programs to prevent family violence are in themselves useful, these researchers did not support such programs as an approach to prevent homelessness. In situations in which households are already experiencing violence, they advised against any attempts to maintain the household. Instead, they concluded that emergency shelters and permanent, subsidized housing are the only effective prevention measures.

relationship breakdown and homelessness prevention

They reiterated the findings of a large New York study Shinn et al. Re-Housing Victims There are some gender differences in the paths to homelessness.

relationship breakdown and homelessness prevention

Homeless women more often have histories of family violence and high rates of mental illness, while homeless men more often have histories of unemployment, incarceration and substance abuse.

Brown and Capponi counselled caution regarding the potential risks in new housing projects that mixed formerly homeless women and men with little or no attention to their different histories.

Many such gender-mixed projects were developed in Toronto during the late s and early s. Most consisted of small, self-contained units; some were shared apartments.