Homelessness is quite a complex problem. Even in defining what a homeless person is, one is faced with difficulties, as there are more than one dimensions of this concept, all of which must be taken into consideration.
In what follows, we attempt to provide a holistic approach to what homelessness is, by quoting both official definitions and sociological explanations.
Homelessness defined legally
(A) means individuals who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence; and
(i) children and youths who are sharing the housing of other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason; are living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, or camping grounds due to the lack of alternative adequate accommodations; are living in emergency or transitional shelters; are abandoned in hospitals; or are awaiting foster care placement;
(ii) children and youths who have a primary nighttime residence that is a public or private place not designed for or ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation for human;
(iii) children and youths who are living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations, or similar settings; and
(iv) migratory children (as such term is defined in section 1309 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965) who qualify as homeless for the purposes of this subtitle because the children are living in circumstances described in clauses through (iii).”
----( McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Assistance Act, Section 725, USA)
Have no accommodation in the UK / elsewhere
Cannot secure entry to accommodation
Are threatened with homelessness within the next 28 days
Have no accommodation which is reasonable for them to occupy”
----( statutory definition included in Section 175, 1966 House Act, UK)
„A person is homeless if, and only if, he or she has inadequate access to safe and secure housing.”
---(Supported Accommodation Assistance Program Act 1994, Australia)
“A child of the street is a person aged 18 or under that lives on the street on a permanent or temporary basis, procuring their means of subsistence illegally and by themselves, without benefiting from any form of protection from parents or other legally authorized persons. “
---- (“National plan on the protection of homeless young people”, Romania)
“Homelessness is not a purely housing based concept but has significant emotional, social and psychological dimensions” (Somerville, 1992)
“Homelessness is an inadequate experience of connectedness with family and or community.” (Dominic Mapstone, Director - Rebecca’s Community).
“Homelessness carries implications of belonging nowhere rather than simply having nowhere to sleep.”
“We all know now that homelessness is not just about bricks and mortar. All the buildings in the world will not stop someone with real personal problems sliding down the housing ladder and onto the street.” (Shaks Ghosh, Chief Executive, Crisis)
“Homelessness is a condition of detachment from society characterized by the absence or attenuation of the affiliative bonds that link settled persons to a network of interconnected social structures” (Caplow, Bahr and Sternberg, 1968: 494).