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The provision of hostel accommodation for those who are homeless has a long history. Despite the fact that their functions and consequences are often questioned, hostels remain a basic element in the provision of services for those who are homeless in all European countries. The aim of this paper is to consider the present-day role of homeless hostels as temporary accommodation, and to discuss its qualities in an “ ideal ” situation. We do this through presenting and discussing the main functions allegedly served by the hostel, as well as its inherent and associated problems. Following a brief review of housing-led approaches to reduce homelessness, we suggest minimum requirements concerning security of tenure, standard and support if a decent quality of existing and future hostels is to be ensured. Our conclusion is that the reasons for hostels boil down to a need for physical shelter in emergency and transition situations where self-contained dwellings and regular hotels are unavailable or deficient. However, an organised [sic] provision of mainstream housing, let with security of tenure and coupled with support when requested by the residents is the only working solution to homelessness and would also minimise [sic] the need for homeless hostels. (Authors)
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2007
The European Journal of Homelessness
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