From long-term homelessness to stable housing: investigating ‘liminality’ – 2018-01

This paper uses the term ‘liminality’ to refer to the experience of feeling like an outsider when people are transitioning from one housing status (long-term homelessness) to another (housed). Three dimensions of liminality are identified: ‘material’, ‘relational’ and ‘psychological’. The material dimension covers how people feel about their housing and whether they find it difficult to make the transition from homeless to housed. The relational dimension focuses on whether people are able to rebuild relations with family and friends. The psychological dimension includes how people deal with the stigma of homelessness. The paper demonstrates that most people can overcome the material dimension of liminality if they are given appropriate support, but they find it more difficult to overcome the relational and psychological dimensions of liminality. We conclude that moving on from long-term homelessness is not straightforward and we point to the policy implications of these findings.

Chris Chamberlain & Guy Johnson
Housing Studies, 31 Jan 2018