|Strategies to Combat Homelessness (HABITAT, 2000, 228 p.)|
|X. Conclusions and proposals for combating homelessness|
The lack of relevant and reliable data on homelessness indicates low political priority and hampers systematic learning from the experiences of different approaches to combat homelessness. In order to obtain a comprehensive and up-to-date overview on homelessness, there is a need for concerted primary research to be carried out on a regular basis. Research networks such as the European Observatory on Homelessness, set up by FEANTSA in 1991, may play a crucial role in this endeavour. The compilation of comprehensive data at national and regional levels would require that agreement be reached on a common definition or a bundle of related definitions for homelessness (FEANTSA, 1999). To this end, it is proposed that UNCHS (Habitat) should consult widely on the appropriateness of definitions of homelessness used in this report to the different regions and countries of the world. The initiation of the United Nations Housing Rights Programme - to be implemented jointly by UNCHS (Habitat) and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights - can contribute to an increased focus on homelessness and may strengthen the search for improved policies and measures.
It is especially important to gather data on homelessness in transitional and developing countries. FEANTSA are beginning to co-ordinate the former within Eastern and Central Europe. However, little is known about the causes, nature and extent of homelessness, especially among adults, in developing countries. Without this research, solutions are unlikely to be forthcoming or, where they are, are unlikely to be effective.
In high-income industrial countries, where there tends to be a well-developed system of social security in place, resources devoted to addressing homelessness may be better spent if more understanding can be gained. Because of the complexity involved, responses to individuals' bundles of needs may not necessarily form effective methods of intervention. Research could well be applied to the effectiveness of tailoring multi-sectoral interventions to individuals rather than to categories of homeless people.
In high-income industrial countries, research on street children's families and on what keeps children at home in difficult circumstances would be very useful. In addition, there is a great need to understand the problems faced by the growing cohorts of orphans following genocides, in places like Rwanda, and because of HIV/AIDS. This is particularly urgent where there is a high incidence of HIV among them as it adds the 'not-in-my-back-yard' dimension to possible solutions.