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Hidden homelessness

Whilst many people tend to think of homeless people as Rough sleepers, there are many others who, while not sleeping on the streets, can be seen as homeless as they do not have a decent place that can be considered a home. People who are squatting or sleeping on friendsí floors because they have no where else to stay and those staying in any type of substandard or insecure temporary accommodation, including Hostels and housing projects and Bed and breakfast hotels B&Bs, can also be seen as homeless. As this tends to be less visible, this has been called hidden homelessness.

Alcohol and drugs

Many homeless people also have problems which are related to alcohol and drug misuse. In some cases, this actually contributes to their homelessness and difficulties with finding accommodation. Whilst there are community alcohol and drug services, not all are accessible to homeless people or geared to their needs. Many hostels are reluctant to accept homeless people with drug or alcohol problems. Those with Dual Diagnosis who also experience mental health problems have particularly severe difficulties in finding somewhere to stay or appropriate support services.

Domestic violence

Many people, often women, become homeless as a result of having to flee domestic violence. Domestic violence can take place between partners in a relationship, between people in the same household, between adults and children or between people who used to be in a relationship or live in the same household. Domestic violence can take many forms, including physical injuries, abuse and rape or mental cruelty in the form of bullying, insults or harassment. Very often, domestic violence is a combination of physical, sexual and/or emotional abuse.

Welfare benefits

Homelessness, lack of secure accommodation or a settled lifestyle are major barriers to finding stable employment. Most homeless people, therefore, are dependent on welfare benefits. Apart from winter shelters, almost all hostels require residents to pay rent. In most cases this is met through Housing Benefit which is only available to people who are unemployed or on low incomes. Restrictions in recent years to the eligibility for various benefits have presented particular difficulties with accessing accommodation for young people, students and people from abroad.

Lesbians and Gay men

There is little research and information available on homelessness and housing issues and lesbians and gay men. However, lesbian and gay organisations, such as Stonewall Housing Advice and London Lesbian and Gay Switchboard, receive hundreds of calls each year from lesbians and gay men who are homeless or in housing need. Many young lesbians and gay men are forced to leave home because of problems parents and families have in accepting their sexuality. Evidence from some homelessness organisations indicates that escaping homophobia and abuse are reasons why a significant number of young people end up having nowhere to stay.


People with HIV/AIDS often experience problems with gaining access to accommodation, worsening health due to poor housing conditions, and discrimination on the grounds of HIV status. The development of research, good practice, and some specialist advice and residential services have helped tackle these problems. Some hostels and housing organisations now have policies for accepting people with HIV/AIDS.

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