Causes of homelessness

Relationship breakdown is the main reason people give for losing their home but is there more to the story?

The most common reasons people give for losing their accommodation is that a friend or relatives  are no longer able to provide support or because of relationship breakdown.

However, there are often a wide number of factors at play. Individuals can arrive at the point of homelessness after a long chain of other life events.

Individual circumstances

Some factors and experiences can make people more vulnerable to homelessness: these include poor physical health, mental health problems, alcohol and drugs issues, bereavement, experience of care, and experience of the criminal justice system.

Wider forces

Structural factors can include poverty, inequality, housing supply and affordability, unemployment, welfare and income policies.

Complex interplay

Structural and individual factors are often interrelated; individual issues can arise from structural disadvantages such as poverty or lack of education. While personal factors, such as family and social relationships, can also be put under pressure by structural forces such as poverty.


Tackling homelessness and exclusion: Understanding complex lives 2011

This summary highlights the prevalence of mental health issues, traumatic childhood experiences and suicide attempts amongst people accessing low-level homelessness support services. It brings together evidence from a two-year programme of work on 'multiple exclusion' homelessness in partnership with JRF, Economic and Social Research Council, Tenant Services Authority and the Department for Communities and Local Government.


Support for Single Homeless People in England 2014

Our 2014 annual review of the sector looks at the capacity, support and services available to homeless people, as well as funding and changes to provision.