Indigenous homelessness: place, house and home
SummaryThe research involved an ethnographic study of Indigenous homelessness WA, trialling the categories developed by Memmott et al. (2003), and connecting the understanding of homelessness with Indigenous housing careers via the AHURI project on Indigenous urban housing careers. The research found that the Indigenous understanding of homelessness, and response to housing need, is shaped by kinship obligations which are deeply embedded in the structure of Indigenous society. Those without housing will approach kinfolk for shelter first, and will usually be given a place to stay. This can conceal the rate of secondary homelessness among Indigenous people and result in permanent overcrowding. It is important to recognise that this is distinct from the cultural practice of visiting kinfolk, which is an important institution amongst Indigenous extended families and may result in temporary overcrowding. Practitioners and homeless people agreed that overcrowding acts as both a hedge against primary homelessness and a force that can result in household breakdown and eviction, especially in ‘drinking households’. A managed overcrowding approach which recognises the high rate of secondary homelessness in the Indigenous community and assists households to maintain their housing may prove an effective approach to the development of new policy addressing Indigenous homelessness.
Project Number: 80368
Research Theme: Homelessness, Indigenous_housing
Project Leader: Birdsall-Jones, Christina
Funding Year: 2007
Research Centre: Western Australia
Research & Policy Bulletin
Issue 134: Indigenous homelessness
This research found that the Indigenous understanding of homelessness, and response to housing need, is shaped by kinship obligations which are deeply embedded in the structure of Indigenous society. Those without housing will approach kinfolk for shelter first, and will usually be given a place to stay. This can conceal the rate of secondary homelessness among Indigenous people and result in permanent overcrowding.
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The study takes a housing careers approach in order to discover:
- why some Indigenous people are currently homeless
- how this relates to their housing careers over the last decade
- how being homeless relates to their shelter aspirations
- how life stage, employment, family and community responsibilities, lifestyle choice and the availability of housing assistance and other supports have affected their current status as homeless.
Using a housing career approach makes it possible to provide models of paths to and from homelessness, further developing the current understanding of Indigenous homelessness. The study will seek to relate the results to completed research and to look forward in seeking to identify:
- the future shelter intentions of Indigenous homeless people
- the nature of the assistance they are likely to require to fulfil these intentions
- future directions for applied research in this field.
Positioning Paper: No. 107: Indigenous homelessness: place, house and home
323 KB PDF Document
Final Report: No. 143: Indigenous homelessness
3.1 MB PDF Document
Research and Policy Bulletin: Issue 134: Indigenous homelessness
307 KB PDF Document