DOI: 10.1177/00420980231208624 ISSN: 0042-0980

Housing the homeless: Shifting sites of managing the poor in the Netherlands

Nienke Fredrika Boesveldt, Dolly Loomans
  • Urban Studies
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)

Contemporary approaches to counter homelessness push for a housing-led model that is seen as more progressive and less punitive than traditional approaches. Few studies have however investigated its translation on the ground. In this paper we aim to do so by studying the implementation of a housing-led approach in the Netherlands; in a context of housing shortages and health care austerity. By building on qualitative interviews with people (previously) experiencing homelessness and professional stakeholders, we argue that while a regular home is a much-needed improvement to emergency shelters and institutions, housing contracts are often conditional and used as disciplinary instruments restricting what people are allowed to do in their own home. Care and screening services are increasingly executed by housing associations and the local police, further entwining housing, care and punishment. Intersecting with local housing shortages and insufficient health care this becomes a barrier to a more effective and humane approach to homelessness. These findings contribute to theories on urban governance by showing how the management of the poor is extended to the private domain.

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