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Since the 1970s, there has been a marked increase in homelessness in Britain. This text explores the causes of this increase and examines the way in which the problem has been socially constructed through political debate and in the media. It is argued that it has largely been constructed as "rooflessness" and the causes have been located in the actions and behaviour of homeless people themselves. The book also examines the public policy responses to homelessness, assessing the workings and impact of the 1977 Homeless Persons Act and its subsequent amendments as well as the different forms of provision and support offered to homeless people. Homelessness is experienced on a day-to-day basis as a private trouble - a teenager rowing with parents, a homeless person fearing violence in a hostel, or someone in debt struggling to pay the mortgage and hiding their situation from others. The experience of not having a home can fracture social networks and stop people from participating in society. Prominence is given in the book to the experiences and views of homeless people themselves. The work is intended to contribute to the policy debate on homelessness whilst pointing the way forward in terms of academic research. A framework for understanding homelessness is put forward which emphasizes its dynamics and complex nature.
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