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Homelessness

  • By: Jeff May & Alan Walks
  • In: Encyclopedia of Geography
  • Edited by: Barney Warf
  • Subject:General Geography, Earth & Environmental Science

Homelessness denotes an extreme and particular form of poverty characterized by a lack of secure housing. Homelessness is commonly divided into two groups: absolute and relative. Absolute homelessness refers to people who have no shelter at all and are forced to either sleep rough (outside, in stairwells, etc.) or stay in a temporary shelter. Relative homelessness includes many people who are able to attain some form of accommodation but for a variety of reasons are precariously or insufficiently housed. This includes those who are doubling up/couch surfing, those who are staying in a rooming house or residential hotel, and/or those who are under constant threat of losing their housing due to eviction. The definition of homelessness is politicized, as different definitions produce wildly varying estimates ...

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