Occupational and Residential Trajectories of the Homeless and How These Interact

Friday, 3 July 2015: 10:15 AM-11:45 AM
CLM.3.05 (Clement House)
Delphine Remillon, INED, Paris, France
Pascale Dietrich-Ragon, INED, Paris, France
Since the 1990s, the homeless have been a recurring topic in the media. Here, we use a new French statistical survey, Sans-Domicile (2012) about people who used food distribution and accommodation services provided by the associations for the homeless at least once during the survey period. Its initial findings show an increase of nearly 50% in the number of homeless in France since the previous survey in 2001. It is important, therefore, to improve our knowledge of the processes by which people are excluded from the housing market and to see if any new mechanisms are operating in order to develop social policy able to prevent this exclusion. Earlier research has revealed a number of events often associated with losing normal accommodation: immigration, separation, leaving home at an early age, health problems, adverse events during childhood, such as domestic violence, fostering or early death of a parent. Loss of employment obviously also plays a major part and is maybe the most crucial element. We look closer at this point and analyze turning points in occupational and residential trajectories and how these interact.

We describe the interactions, mainly on the basis of longitudinal data on residential and occupational transitions during the 13 months preceding the survey. Some other questions are related to important life events and especially those during childhood. Is the loss of housing the consequence or cause of the loss of a job? Is this single critical event (job loss) sufficient to derail a person’s life, or is the loss of housing related to an accumulation of varied events (health problems, changes in the family group, loss of social relations, etc.)? In other words, is becoming homeless the extreme case of a more general situation of occupational and economic insecurity, or the result of a series of critical events? Although we look mainly at employment, we also pay attention to other life events in the entire life span and to the socio-economic context. We also examine interactions with the standard socio-demographic variables (age, gender, origin). This is because losing normal accommodation and being taken care of by an institution are quite different things for women and men, according to their family structure, migration status and age.  

With respect to the relationship between occupational and residential trajectories, we focus on a particular situation that has recently become more common: people with a job but without normal housing. About one third of the surveyed homeless are relatively close to employment. And eight out of ten of the homeless have already had long-term working experiences. As insecurity grows on the labour market and house prices rise in cities, having a job no longer necessarily means having access to stable accommodation of quality. This specific population group raises the question of the relationship between occupational and residential trajectories. What obstacles prevent them having normal housing? Is it mainly due to the type of job held (low income, part-time, short contract) or other life events? How this group differs from the other homeless?