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Beyond the ‘At Risk’ Individual: Housing and the Eradication of Poverty to Prevent Homelessness



A prevention framework represents one of the fundamental means of the Australian Government's contemporary drive to achieve permanent reductions in homelessness. Consistent with prevailing policies in the UK and US, Australia has approached homelessness prevention through identification and early intervention of individuals ‘at risk’ of homelessness. In this article we suggest that prevention strategies focused on the risk factors that individual pose obscures efforts to address the underlying structural factors that contribute to homelessness, or to reduce the prevalence of homelessness at the overall population level. The article examines the efficacy of increasing the supply of affordable housing to prevent homelessness, but suggests that the provision of housing alone may be insufficient to realising related well-being objectives. In turn, it is proposed that policy which focuses on poverty reduction has the capacity to achieve the sustainable prevention of homelessness ambitions.