Definitions of Homelessness

“When you say homeless, I mean, what do you mean? Because I can be living in a place that’s not my home, I can have a roof over my head. It’s not my home, you know… Home is where the heart is really. You’ve got to have some say in what happens around you. You know, that’s my definition of a home”

Quoted from London Crisis report: ‘They Think I Don’t Exist, The Hidden Nature of Rural Homelessness’, Evans, A (1999)

The national charity, Crisis, states:-

“We need to redefine our understanding of homelessness. It is clearly not just a physical condition but is an emotional one and depends on how safe, secure and comfortable a person feels in a place.”

‘They Think I Don’t Exist, The Hidden Nature of Rural Homelessness’, London Crisis; Evans, A (1999)

Shelter states:-

You should be considered homeless if:

  • you have no home in the UK or anywhere else in the world
  • you have no home where you can live together with your immediate family
  • you can only stay where you are on a very temporary basis
  • you don’t have permission to live where you are
  • you have been locked out of home and you aren’t allowed back
  • you can’t live at home because of violence or threats of violence which are likely to be carried out against you or someone else in your household
  • it isn’t reasonable for you to stay in your home for any reason (for example, if your home is in very poor condition)
  • you can’t afford to stay where you are
  • you live in a vehicle or boat and you have nowhere to put it.

Quoted from www.shelter.org.uk

The Housing Act 1996 states:-

  • A person is homeless if he has no accommodation available for his occupation, in the United Kingdom or elsewhere, which he-
    • (a) is entitled to occupy by virtue of an interest in it or by virtue of an order of a court,
    • (b) has an express or implied licence to occupy, or
    • (c) occupies as a residence by virtue of any enactment or rule of law giving him the right to remain in occupation or restricting the right of another person to recover possession.
  • A person is also homeless if he has accommodation but-
    • (a) he cannot secure entry to it, or
    • (b) it consists of a moveable structure, vehicle or vessel designed or adapted for human habitation and there is no place where he is entitled or permitted both to place it and to reside in it.
  • A person shall not be treated as having accommodation unless it is accommodation which it would be reasonable for him to continue to occupy.
  • A person is threatened with homelessness if it is likely that he will become homeless within 28 days.

Housing Act 1996, Chapter 52, Part VII, Section 175

Doorway’s Definition of Homelessness

Based on the experience of the project and research by organisations such as Crisis, Doorway will use the following definitions of homelessness as its eligibility criteria:

Single people aged 16+ who are:

  • Literally without a roof, or
  • Threatened with homelessness, or
  • Without accomodation which they have an exclusive right to occupy (eg living in a B&B or hostel or staying with friends – ‘sofa-surfing’), or
  • With a secure tenancy, but with a disability, illness, lifestyle or lack of basic skills to manage their affairs which is likely to threaten their housing security.
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