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January 13, 2021

Ending It with evidence from around the globe

Stephen Aldridge

Challenges of homelessness are a global phenomenon. Almost universally, tackling homelessness is a policy priority in all countries and across the political spectrum. Covid19 has added to the urgency. In the UK and other countries, governments have responded at tremendous speed and at scale.

Data, research and evidence on the characteristics and causal drivers of homelessness and what works in addressing them mattered crucially even before Covid19. They’re even more important now.

The Centre for Homelessness Impact – one of a network of what works centres in the UK covering a broad range of policy areas - was set up over two years ago to synthesise and make accessible the existing evidence base and to help fill the key evidence gaps so policymakers and service providers can address the problem both more effectively and more sustainably. 

In response to Covid19 and the additional challenges it has given rise to, the Centre, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, the Office for National Statistics and Public Health England have joined forces to establish a new global Homelessness Research Network - coordinated by the Centre. The network brings together research experts in academia, government, the third sector and elsewhere from all four nations of the UK, the USA, Canada, and Australia. But, it is open to anyone building the evidence in this vital policy area wherever they are. 

The network aims to provide a platform to share cutting-edge, timely research and evidence on interventions that work. It is also a space to build stronger links and share knowledge and best practice both within research communities and with users of research. By building these links, it aims to promote collaborative working to fill key gaps in the evidence. 

The response to the creation of the network has been fantastic. We were able to get it off the ground in a matter of weeks and have been delighted by the response from academics in the field of homelessness research. The first few meetings have heard presentations on various aspects of the impact of Covid19 on homelessness including work (amongst others) by:

  • Professor Andrew Hayward (University College London) and Dr Al Storey (University College London Hospital), which suggested that the measures put in place during ‘Everyone In’ in England prevented 24,000 infections and over 300 deaths
  • Professor Christine Whitehead (London School of Economics) on the experiences of tenants in the private rented sector, and 
  • Professor Phillip Brown (University of Huddersfield) on Covid19 and housing quality 

Looking ahead to 2021, the network will continue to focus on the issues that are most important to the network’s members. We will undoubtedly continue to focus particularly on Covid19, but as time moves forward we will turn increasingly to other policy issues that are affecting those working to end homelessness. 

We want to build on what we have already achieved. In 2020 we made a great start by getting many of the right people around the table, but moving into 2021 we want to encourage members to work even more collaboratively. We also want to ensure that our network is open to more people, so that we’re reaching everyone, both in the UK and internationally, who is doing important research related to homelessness. This will help everyone to have a better understanding of the problem, its causal drivers and ‘what works’ in solving it. 

We are particularly keen to extend the membership of the network to individuals who have experience of homelessness, and to researchers and data analysts working in governments in the USA, Canada and Australia as well as the UK. We are especially interested in hearing from you if you work in a role that can help change the flow of individuals experiencing street homelessness, along with individuals from outside of the UK with an interest in homelessness policy and practice. 

If you would like more information on the Research Network, or to enquire about joining, please contact us at : hello@homelessnessimpact.org

Stephen Aldridge

Chair, Centre for Homelessness Impact Research Network

Director for Analysis and Data, Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government

United Kingdom 

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