Becoming homeless: who is at risk.

Population and Societies

313, May 1996

Reliable information about the homeless remains scarce due to the obvious difficulties of applying a statistical approach to this population [1]. In response to a request from the Conseil National de l’Information Statistique (Cnis), an initial survey of 591 individuals was conducted in Paris by Ined (see inset). The object was to increase understanding of the difficulties faced by the homeless, of their response to these difficulties, and of the processes responsible for their situation.

Contextual factors (eg industrial restructuring) and individual handicaps (eg low qualifications) combine to explain why in a period of crisis in employment, when family and professional solidarities are under strain, and when low-cost housing is increasingly scarce, some people are at greater risk than others of losing their home. Those with limited material or relational resources, or whose skills are obsolete, may end up on the street. In what follows we analyse a number of these factors, some of which go back to childhood.

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