The role of housing policy in perpetuating conditional forms of homelessness support in the era of housing first: Evidence from Australia [2019]

Despite widespread enthusiasm for Housing First approaches to addressing homelessness, conditional models of support that require ‘housing readiness’ persist in many jurisdictions. Existing research cites an ongoing commitment to conditionality amongst homelessness services providers as a key reason for its persistence. In this paper, we argue that State housing policies also play an important role in perpetuating conditionality in the homelessness sector. Drawing on research carried out in an Australian jurisdiction, we show how policies regarding the supply and allocation of social housing compel homelessness service providers—including Housing First services—to employ conditionality practices. We also demonstrate the detrimental impact this has on the housing outcomes of homelessness people with complex needs. We conclude that our findings challenge the claim made by some that Housing First constitutes a ‘paradigm shift’, and instead highlight the complex processes of policy translation and assemblage that shape the adaptation of Housing First in different contexts.

Andrew Clarke, Cameron Parsell & Margarita Vorsina
Housing Studies, Volume 35, 2020 – Issue 5