Why do people become homeless?

There is no one reason for why someone ends up rough sleeping.

Why do people rough sleep?

There is no one reason for why someone ends up rough sleeping. Each individual situation is complex and can relate to both personal and environmental reasons.

Homeless Link says: “For some people, homelessness is not just a housing issue. It is something that is inextricably linked with complex and chaotic life experiences.”

The myriad of complex reasons why people sleep rough demands similarly complex solutions. Most of the time there is no such thing as a quick fix. Providing a home does not always solve a person’s issues or long term housing situation.

Instead the solution involves a comprehensive assessment of the individual’s other needs and life skills. Also, what support is needed to successfully maintain accommodation. This can range from intensive on-site support in supported accommodation to lighter touch tenancy sustainment support through floating support services.

Personal experiences

A high number of people who face homelessness have had traumatic life experiences in their past, which have continued to negatively impact on their lives in very harmful ways. 

St Mungo’s said: “Many of the people we see have mental or physical health problems, or have issues with drug or alcohol use. Sometimes people face a complex mix of these factors, on top of more difficult family backgrounds than most.”

The pathway into homelessness does not always start late on in an individual’s life. Studies have found that experiences at different stages of a person’s life, such as childhood or teenage years, can result in them becoming homeless. 

Public Health England recently published a document study called: Evidence Review: ‘Adults with complex needs (with a particular focus on street begging and street sleeping)’

This study highlighted that “early trauma/adverse childhood experiences result in an increased likelihood of being homeless in the future. 98% of those who experienced such events, also had experience of being homeless at some point in their adult life and or were currently homeless”.

To read more of this study please turn to page 32 of the Evidence Review document.

Accessing Services

Accessing needed support services can often be a struggle for those who rough sleep. A joint and integrated response from all services delivered in Bournemouth is essential for supporting people to make positive moves off the street. 

Shelter, the homeless charity said: “Tackling these problems is a complex business. Normally it requires support from public bodies, friends and family, combined with a lot of hard work from the individual or family in trouble. Public support might include intervention, advice, counselling, training or provision of alternative accommodation by a local authority where appropriate.” 

Homeless Link also said: People with complex needs are at serious risk of falling through the cracks in service provision. There needs to be an integrated response across health, housing and social care.

Find out more about the support that is on offer to those with complex needs in Bournemouth.

Read more from homeless charities and our partner agency: