Research on Homelessness

This section contains homelessness-related research, which helps inform the Housing Executive's strategic and operational policies.

Experiences of Youth Homelessness

This research was commissioned by the Housing Executive and undertaken by lead consultant, Fiona Boyle with support from the Housing Executive via the Research Unit and the Homelessness Strategy & Policy Unit. In addition, specialist knowledge and expertise on homelessness policy and literature relating to youth homelessness in the rest of the United Kingdom has been provided by Professor Nicholas Pleace, Housing Centre, The University of York.

The purpose of this research was to provide an improved understanding of the issues that lead to young people becoming homeless, the support available to them and areas that need to be improved.

In particular the research was focussed on assisting the Housing Executive in seeking to prevent homelessness amongst young people and to identify opportunities and/or links across government agencies, where improvements could be made to assist in the prevention of homelessness.

You can read:

The Impacts of Chronic Homelessness for Women

In January 2020 Fiona Boyle Associates were commissioned to undertake research exploring the impacts of chronic homelessness for women.

The purpose of the research was to assist the Housing Executive in understanding the scale and impact of the issue, whilst also identifying any additional gender specific issues that should be addressed in future action plans and service delivery, both by the Housing Executive and wider service providers in the statutory and voluntary sectors.

The research included analysis of data held by the NIHE and other stakeholders/service providers to gauge the proportion of women impacted by chronic homelessness and the factors that influence their housing situation.  

Qualitative interviews recorded a selection of service users journeys and life experiences relating to homelessness and stakeholders provided valuable insights on the provision of services for women experiencing chronic homelessness.

The findings will be used to inform Homelessness Strategy & Policy, particularly in relation to ongoing activities associated with the Chronic Homelessness Action Plan.  

Homelessness Service User Journeys

In January 2020, Fiona Boyle Associates was commissioned to undertake research to look at the ‘homeless journeys’ of homeless people.

The purpose of the research was to provide the Housing Executive with an improved understanding of service users who currently use or have used homeless services, looking specifically at the homelessness process, and the individual’s journey into, through and in some cases out of homelessness.  

In particular this research aims to provide understanding on the type and broad range and variety of ‘journeys’ experienced by homeless service users.

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The Role of Day Services in delivering support to those experiencing Chronic Homelessness

The Housing Executive’s Chronic Homelessness Action Plan focuses on our commitment, set out in the Homelessness Strategy 2017-22 for Northern Ireland, Ending Homelessness Together, to develop appropriate responses to address the needs of individuals experiencing chronic homelessness in Northern Ireland. 

An important aspect of the delivery of services to those experiencing chronic homelessness is through day services, and the Action Plan recommended the need to evaluate and review the role of existing day centres in Northern Ireland.  There are three day centres in Northern Ireland, which receive whole or part funding from the Housing Executive. 

This research project was commissioned in March 2020 to explore the role of existing day services in delivering support to those experiencing chronic homelessness.  The report provides an understating of the role of day centres in addressing chronic homelessness, and the project as a whole contributes to one of the key actions identified in the Chronic Homelessness Action Plan.  


Strategic Review of Temporary Accommodation

In January 2019, Campbell Tickell was commissioned to undertake a Strategic Review of Housing Executive’s Temporary Accommodation portfolio.

The overall aim of the project was to provide the Housing Executive with an evidence base on which to assess whether its temporary accommodation is in the right locations, of the right type (and quality), and is cost effective and strategically relevant in the exercise of its homelessness duties. This research will also assist the Housing Executive in considering the best and most cost-effective model for the delivery of temporary accommodation. 

The Campbell Tickell report is a very useful evidence base that will inform the Housing Executive’s wider Strategic Review of Temporary Accommodation and resultant Strategic Action Plan.


Analysis of Homeless Presenters and Acceptances Report (2019)

In 2017, the NI Audit Office (NIAO) published a report entitled ‘Homelessness in Northern Ireland’. In part one of the report, the NIAO focused on the level of homeless presenters and the increasing levels of Full Duty Applicant Status acceptances. The document noted legislative differences between UK jurisdictions and it was suggested that a number of societal factors in NI, may have resulted in an increase in presenters and acceptances, especially in relation to Accommodation Not Reasonable.  The Housing Executive recognised a need for research to gain an understanding of and respond to Recommendation 1 of the NIAO report, which asked why the level of statutory homeless acceptances in NI are significantly higher than in other UK jurisdictions.

This piece of research was externally commissioned by the Housing Executive and undertaken by lead consultant, Fiona Boyle with support from the Housing Executive via the Research Unit and the Homelessness Policy & Strategy Unit. In addition, specialist knowledge and expertise on homelessness policy and data for the rest of the United Kingdom has been provided by Professor Nicholas Pleace, Centre for Housing Policy, The University of York.

Northern Ireland Homelessness Strategy Report: an evaluation (2017)

This evaluation focuses on the first four and a half years of the implementation of the five-year Homelessness Strategy for Northern Ireland, 2012-2017.  It provides:

  • an overview of the Strategy and a description of the evaluation process;

  • analysis of key issues including: the prevention of homelessness over the period 2012-2016; access to affordable housing; rough sleeping; and provision of services to vulnerable homeless households and individuals; and  

  • comparisons with Scotland, Wales, England and experience and practice from other countries.

The report concludes with a discussion of progress and recommendations.

The Efficiency and Effectiveness of the Housing First Support Service piloted by Depaul in Belfast, funded by Supporting People: an SROI evaluation (2016)

The ‘Housing First’ approach provides permanent housing for homeless people who are dependent on alcohol and drugs or who have mental health issues, with the support, social care and health services they need provided to them in their own homes or locally in their community. The intention is that housing should be available even if a homeless person refuses treatment for their substance misuse or mental health issues.

This study sought to evaluate the efficiency and effectiveness of the Housing First model piloted by Depaul in Northern Ireland in helping to achieve the aims of the Housing Executive’s Housing Related Support Strategy 2012-2015 and Homelessness Strategy 2012-2017 and provide an insight into the benefits to be gained by adopting Housing First approaches to homelessness more widely in Northern Ireland.  The research team estimated the social return on the investment (SROI) from the Supporting People programme and Depaul in the Housing First service, comparing this with costs in other accommodation-based and floating support services for homelessness people in Northern Ireland.

Through Our Eyes (2015)

The Housing Executive commissioned this study into Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGB&T) homelessness in Northern Ireland. The broad aim of the research was to add to the Housing Executive’s evidence base on the changing characteristics of homelessness in Northern Ireland, specifically with regards to Northern Ireland’s LGB&T communities. The research was undertaken by The Rainbow Project (TRP), in partnership with Council for the Homeless Northern Ireland (CHNI).

Measuring Homelessness and Housing Exclusion in Northern Ireland: A test of the ETHOS typology

This research aimed to explore how effective the European Typology of Housing Exclusion and Homelessness (ETHOS) would be, both as a measure of homelessness and housing exclusion for Northern Ireland itself, and as a means of contrasting homelessness policy outcomes in Northern Ireland with those in comparable countries or regions.

Archived homelessness research

House Condition Survey