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Interconnecting Housing, Homelessness, and Rurality: Evidence from Local Authority Homelessness Officers in England and Wales
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This paper investigates the discursive and practical policy issues relating to homelessness in rural areas of England and Wales. It begins with the argument that such homelessness does represent a significant but under-emphasised problem in rural areas. Official government counting of rural homelessness itself underestimates the scale of the problem, but provides a starting point for an understanding of more hidden forms of homelessness. We suggest a number of ways in which rural homelessness is less visible than its well-publicised urban counterpart, relating to the morphology of rural areas, social-cultural constructs of idyll-ic rural living, and conceptual assumptions which render homelessness as out-of-place in purified rural spaces. We then report on findings from a survey of local authority homelessness officers in England and Wales and in-depth interviews with officers in the counties of Somerset and Gloucestershire. Seeing the issues through the eyes of these practitioners clarifies a number of strands of the invisibility of rural homelessness, and points to very significant interconnections between ‘housing’ and ‘homelessness’ discourses in the local rural policy process. (Authors)
Journal of Rural Studies
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