Homelessness, Advice Provision and Technology

Project Details

Description

Housing-related issues form one of the key areas for which people seek legal advice. The availability of accurate and timely housing advice is of vital importance and, as due to the current changes outlined below, may play an increasingly important role in the prevention of homelessness.

Recent reports indicate rising levels of statutory homelessness acceptances, rough sleeping, hidden homelessness, social sector rent arrears and welfare benefit sanctions. This project focuses on homelessness charities and those typically being advised and supported by these organisations.

Political preference and funding allocations are currently directing advice from face-to-face assistance towards telephone and digital services. Advice and support organisations also face the challenge of helping people adapt to the rapid digitisation of many public services. One example of this is the shift towards the online application and management of benefit claims within the introduction of Universal Credit.

There are serious concerns that many of these reforms do not take account of existing inequalities in ICT access, skills and abilities. Many homeless people struggle with digital literacy and/or ICT access and could therefore be negatively affected by these reforms.

Studies carried out in the US have however revealed that many homeless people actively use technology in their day-to-day lives for the purpose of securing resources, social connections and leisure activities. However, at present little is known about the receptivity, deterrents and successes in the application of technology to provide advice, information, and other legal services; this particularly in regards to homeless people.

This research aims to increase understanding of the ways homeless people access and use technology at local homelessness support organisations. In doing so this project will suggest ways that ICT based advice and information could be better designed to address the needs and abilities of homeless people.
StatusFinished
Effective start/end date1/04/121/04/16