Introduction

There are families and single people of all ages and backgrounds throughout the United Kingdom living in overcrowded, damp and unsafe housing, staying in temporary housing like hostels, bed and breakfast accommodation, night shelters or living under the threat of eviction or repossession. For others the disadvantage is even worse and the reality of home may be a doorway or a cardboard box. They are described as living rough.

Perceived reasons why people ultimately find themselves homeless include relationship breakdown, domestic violence, overcrowding, debt, bad budgeting and mental illness. Also involved are the consequences of unemployment and redundancy and young people exiting care facilities without adequate housing provision being arranged or available.

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Current government policy results in 16-18 year olds not being automatically entitled to social security benefits or where they do receiving benefits these are below adult rates. For young people where family relationships have broken down and living on a small income can often result in being totally unsupported both emotionally and financially. For many young homeless people they have no home to which they can realistically return and their need to stand on their own feet is dependent on the possibility of finding work and a home.

According to the Simon Community homelessness in Northern Ireland is a growing problem with a total of 3879 people throughout Northern Ireland seeking assistance from the charity during 1998/99 as a consequence of homelessness. This figure represents an increase of 17% on the previous years’ figure of 3314. The increase among young people is of particular concern with one in every five people being helped by the Simon Community in NI falling within the age group 16-18 years (Annual Report – Simon Community 1998/99).

According to the Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE), District Housing Plan for Belfast (1999/2000) between 1993/94 and 1998/99 there was a gradual increase in the numbers of homeless applicants presenting in Belfast. High levels of civil disturbance inflated the figures for 1996/97. On the other hand the NIHE recorded a slight decrease in the overall number of people presenting as homeless with 10997 during 1999/2000 compared with 11552 in 1998/99, a decrease of 4% (NIHE Progress Report 1999/2000).

It is however difficult to draw comparisons between the figures from different agencies involved with homelessness since some deal exclusively with single homeless people while others may have a much wider remit. In addition homeless people may make contact with different agencies resulting in double counting of cases. It is also important to recognise that much homelessness remains hidden and that figures representing the problem of homelessness can be little more than estimates.

There is some consensus among NI agencies on the perceived reasons for homelessness with sharing breakdown and family dispute together with marital/relationship breakdown and intimidation being the main features involved. The diversity and complexity of reasons offered to explain homelessness warrants further research particularly in Northern Ireland where the social, economic and political conditions are significantly different from those in other parts of Ireland and the United Kingdom.

The consequences of homelessness for young people are significant in social and economic terms not just for the individual but also for the country as a whole. In the context of NI where after a generation of social conflict there is expectation of significant economic growth and a consequent need to maintain and develop an educated and highly motivated young working population. The need to examine the reasons for homelessness in NI among young men and women in the 16-18 age group is therefore important and lends itself to meaningful research endeavours in this area of social experience. Research, which is specific to the situation in Northern Ireland, is limited. One notable exception is a study by the Simon Community (1998), which assessed the needs of young, single homeless people in a borough council area.

There is therefore a gap in the research profile of homelessness as it relates to NI. This research proposes to begin to address this deficit.

References

Northern Ireland Housing Executive (2000) District Housing Plan, Belfast, 1999-2000, NIHE, Belfast.

Simon Community Northern Ireland (1999) Annual Report 1998/1999, Simon Community, NI.

Northern Ireland Housing Executive, (2000) Annual Report 1999/2000, NIHE, Belfast.

Literature Review

Definition of Homelessness

” A condition of detachment from society characterised by the absence or attenuation of the affinitive bonds that link settled persons to a network of inter-connected structures”. (Caplow, 1978)

” Single homelessness people include those who sleep rough in the open – air sites, residential streets and partially sheltered areas, such as underneath bridges; those who sleep in car parks, bus and train stations; those are squatting or sleeping in otherwise empty buildings; those who reside, on a temporary basis, because in hostels, night shelters and similar accommodation. Those who reside in resettlement accommodation; and those who reside with friends on a temporary basis, because they are unable to find separate accommodation Single women living in women’s refuges and hostels should be included. Char would also include single people who sleep rough in barns, sheds, night cafes and even airport lounges within a definition of homelessness”. (Sarah Waugh Char 1976)

A survey undertaken for the Department of the Environment in 1995, found that the number of young people between the ages of 20 ; 24 years living at home had increased significantly since 1991, with over half of all men and a third of women still living with their parents. This finding contradicts the common perception that young people today are more independent than in previous generations. (Holman, 1996)

As Evans (1996) indicated,

“The great majority of 16 to 24- years old live with their parents and most do not expect to leave home until they are at least 18 years of age”.

It is generally acknowledged that many young people with their parents would prefer to live independently. However, unemployment, low wages and benefits allied to excessive housing costs has meant that is probably more difficult now than at nay other time in recent decades for young people to make the transition to independence. For various reasons, it is not possible for all young people to remain within the parental home until they have the opportunity or resources to a safe journey to independence. As Evens (1996) pointed out, for a growing minority of young people a range of stressors may exacerbate tensions at home to the point where they have little option to move out.

In mid- 1995 a National Inquiry in to Youth Homelessness was set up. The inquiry, which was commissioned by ten leading charities, gathered evidence from various, including submissions from 170 organisations throughout Great Britain and Northern Ireland. According to the inquiry members, the final report which was published in September 1996, presents the most through and extensive examination of homelessness in the U.K this century. The inquiry team defined youth homelessness in the following terms”:

” A single person, without dependants, between the ages of 16 and 18 years who is one of the following situations.

* Without any accommodation – e.g. sleeping rough, or with no accommodation to go to;

* In temporary accommodation, such as a hostel, bed and breakfast hotel, squat;

* Staying temporarily with friends or relatives, who are either unable or unwilling to accommodate in the longer terms” Holman, 1996

Why Young people become homeless

Research has shown that in times of economic hardship the proportion of young people living with their parents rises. Foe example the National Child Development Study has found that in areas of high unemployment, “man’s departures into partnership and Women’s chances of living with friends are significantly reduced”. (Di Salvo et al, 1995)

A survey undertaken for the Department of the Environment in 1995, found that the number of young people between the ages of 20 and 24 – years living at home had increased significantly since 1991, with over half of all men and a third of women still living with their parents. This finding contradicts the common perception that young people today are more independent than in previous generations. (Holman, 1996)

As Evens (1996) indicated:

” The great majority of 16 to 24 – year olds live with their parents and most do not expect to leave home until they are at least 18 years of age”.

It is generally acknowledged that many young people with their parents would prefer to live independently. However, unemployment, low wages and benefits allied to excessive housing costs has meant that it is probably more difficult now than at any other time in recent decades for young people to make the transition to independence. For various reasons it is not possible for all young people to remain within the parental home until they have the opportunity or resources to make a safe journey to independence. As Evens (1996) pointed out, for a growing minority of young people a range of stressors may exacerbate tensions at home to the point where they have little option but to move out.

Family Conflict

Many are forced to leave home due to family conflict or tensions, whilst those in statutory care have little option but to make their own way once they reach the age of 18, with some with some leaving earlier. When young people leave the parental home because of intolerable conflict, they are much more likely to do so in an unplanned way, with few resources and no family support. Faced with only very limited housing options, they are highly vulnerable to homelessness. Moreover, as Evens (1996) remarked surveys reveal that the majority of young homeless say they are unable to return home. A common perception is that, disgruntled with comprises of family life and lured by promises of the wider world, young people jump irresponsibly into homelessness. However, research has consistently shown that this view is erroneous. Most young people do not leave home on a whim or impulse, but have been pushed into leaving because of chronic and serious conflict with their families.

For example a recent survey by Centrepoint, involving 7,500 homeless young people in seven different locations across the U.K, found that 86% had been forced to leave home. This finding is in marked contrast to an earlier study conducted by, Centrepoint in 1987, which found that “pull factors”, such as moving to find employment or a desire for independence, were far more prominent and were mentioned by half of all homeless people, compared to just 14% in 1996. (Centrepoint, annual statistics). National and family conflict is the most salient trigger in youth homelessness. In a local survey findings submitted to the Inquiry family problems accounted for between one and two thirds of those in housing need, with a median of approximately 40%. Other surveys have put the other proportion even higher. (Nasser & Simms, 1996)

Family conflict is a descriptive label, which although useful, actually obscures or masks a raft of other contributory factors. It is these associated elements, which are of critical importance when attempting to understand the phenomenon of young homeless people. Among the most important are:

* Serious physical, sexual or emotional abuse;

* Changing family structures, divorce and separation;

* Poverty, overcrowding and poor living conditions;

* The impact of housing legislation and housing benefit changes.

Studies of homelessness in London carried out in 1961-62 (Greve 1964) and 1967-70, (Greve et al, 1971). A wider study of homelessness in Britain (Greve 1991). Found that the most immediate causes of homelessness identified in 1970, were much the same as in 1950-60: Relationship breakdown; Landlords requiring the accommodation (including eviction): and rent owners in private land or local authority; overcrowding, harassment by landlords.

This remained a relatively insignificant cause of homelessness at the end of the 60’s, but emerged a significant factor in the late 80’s and early 90’s. By the late 80’s, the view of Britain as a whole were the most important immediate causes of homelessness showed some change by comparison with 1959-60 and 1969-70. Most important now, were (still) the breakdown of relationships (including those between young people and their parents or guardians), the failure of sharing arrangements in accommodation and unemployment. Two factors have remained important over the thirty years or so up to 1990 and continue to be so.

Abuse

The true extent of abuse experienced by the young homeless is probably underestimated, since many young people will be reluctant to reveal the truth. In a submission to the National Inquiry, the Scottish Association of Citizens Advice Bureaux wrote that,

“The problems of abuse and violence are often not reported initially and are disguised amongst the figures given for household friction or parental problems”. (P.51)

Hendessi found that 40% of young women who become homeless have experienced sexual abuse in childhood or adolescence, and Child-line CYMRU, in a submission to the inquiry, argued, ” for many, the streets are safer than where they are living “. (P.51)

Family Dynamics

Also the changes to family structure, through the separation and divorce of parents and the creation of new partnerships, have contributed to the pressures experienced by families. There is some evidence that the children of lone parents, and parents who has found partnerships, is more likely to leave home early and to become homeless. In a survey of young Scottish people, Jones found that:

1. 44% of those with a stepparent left home by the age of 19, compared with 33% of those with one lone parent.

2. A quarter of homeless young people had a stepparent, compared with 4% OF Scottish.

Correlation, however, does not imply causation and this association could be due to other factors shared by those households, including low incomes and poor living conditions. Indeed recent research suggests that it is the quality of family relations that matter, not the structure (Rowntree, 1996). In a submission to the National Inquiry, St Ann’s voluntary group in Leeds said:

“Quality family life, provides a feeling of security: it educates them I the skills that enable a person to live independently. In addition, it acts as a support network that remains accessible to a very young person, very often throughout and beyond their youth. Many young people however, have not experienced quality family -life-they are told they are not wanted and the network of support, practically, social, financial and emotional is not available”. (P.54)

Poverty

Growing economic pressures exacerbate existing tensions and when combined with other factors, may result in family breakdown. Evidence from official sources strongly suggests that the number of families who experience poverty has increased sharply since 1979.

1. Whilst average income in the UK rose by 37% between 1979 and 1992/93, the poorest section of the population saw their income fall by 18% (DSS, 1995).

2. BY 1992, almost a quarter (24%) of the population (13.7 million) was on or below the level of income support, compared with 11% in 1979 (Social committee, 1992 & 1995).

3. One in three children is now growing up in poverty compared with one in ten in 1997 (DSS, 1992).

4. Increasing numbers of households have no earners, which are up from 5% in 1979 to 20% in 194/95(Meadows, 1996).

In the majority of cases, tensions generated by low income and poverty are contained and do not lead to permanent estrangement. Emerisch et al 1995, found that young people whose families are on low income tend to leave home than their more different counterparts. However, in a growing number of cases these financial pressures act as the trigger to homelessness. In addition to family conflict, and its contributory causes, social policy changes have had a major impact on youth homelessness in the UK. It seems likely that official statistics underestimate the level of homelessness. Evans (1996) noted that, as the great majority of young people are not eligible for public sector housing, they do not apply for help.

Young single homeless people are not pregnant must normally be defined as “vulnerable” and in “priority need”, in order to be rehoused under the homelessness legislation. Like most authorities in the UK the Housing Executive does not define young homeless people as vulnerable on the basis of age alone, and so the majority of young applicants are rejected. The Housing (NI) Order 1988, which contains the statutory duties owed to homeless people, did not be come operational in NI untill 1989. It tool over a year for the implications of the legislation to filter through sections of the homeless population rapid expansion (almost 25%) in the number of presenters occurred between April 1990 and March 1991.

The Housing (NI) Order 1988.

The Executive has a duty under its legislation to investigate the circumstances of any applicant presenting as homeless. In order that the applicant can be awarded priority status under the terms of this legislation, they must fulfil the following criteria laid by it:

* They must be homeless or threatened with homelessness

* They must be in priority need

* They must be unintentionally homeless

The Executive has a duty to secure permanent accommodation for those applicants who fulfil all 3 criteria.

It has a duty to provide temporary accommodation for these applicants pending permanent housing, should they require it.

The Executive will provide temporary accommodation to those applicants who require it to do so, whilst making enquires into priority need/intentionally.

For those applicants who are homeless and in priority need but intentionally homeless, the executive has a duty to secure temporary accommodation when required for a limited period, in order that they may seek alternative accommodation.

Temporary Accommodation

The Executive will seek to provide the most suitable temporary accommodation to meet each applicants needs and may use the following types of accommodation:

* NIHE Hostels

* Voluntary Sector Hostels

* Private Sector Establishments – B&B, Guest Houses, Hostels

As well as placing homeless applicants in 19 of its own hostels, the executive makes temporary accommodation placements in a wide range of Voluntary Sector Hostels, many of whom the executive assist by way of deficit funding payments. These Voluntary organisations play an important role by providing not only temporary accommodation, but also support and resettlement, particularly to those applicants who, although homeless, are not awarded priority status.

The executive will supply applicants who are homeless or threatened with homelessness, a list of furniture storage companies who have been tendered for the executive. In cases of financial hardship, or where and applicant is unable to make his own suitable arrangements, the executive may arrange to store an applicants personal property provided; –

1. The applicant is homeless/threatened and in priority need, or has been placed in temporary accommodation by the executive relating to homelessness/priority need/intentionally.

2. There is a danger of loss or damage to the applicant’s priority.

Advice and Assistance

Where an executive has no legislative permanent housing duty, individuals may be considered for public sector accommodation under the Executive’s Housing Scheme. Such applicants are also given advice and assistance on other possible housing options that may be open to them.

Around 11,000 applicants present themselves as homeless to the executive each year, and around 4,500 of whom are accepted as priority applicants under the terms of the homelessness legislation. Each year the executive places around 2,500 households in temporary accommodation. Since the executive became the statutorily responsible for homelessness in April 1989, it has monitored various aspects of those presenting i.e. male, female, age group, etc as well as the reasons for homelessness by those presenting i.e. breakdown/family disputes, marital/relationships breakdowns, domestic violence, intimidation, loss of rental accommodation.

Article 3 – Part II Housing (NI) Order 1988.

1. A person is homeless if he has no accommodation in Northern Ireland.

2. A person shall be treated as having no accommodation if there is no accommodation which he, together with any other person normally resides with him as a member of his family or in circumstances in which it is reasonable for that person to reside with him –

(A) Is entitled to occupy by virtue of an interest in it or virtue by an order or a court, or

(B) Has an express or implied licence to occupy, or

(C) Occupies as a residence by the virtue of any enactment or rule of law given him the right to remain in occupation or restricting the right of another person to recover possession.

3. A person shall not be treated as having accommodation unless it is accommodation, which it would be reasonable for him to continue to occupy.

4. Regard may be had, if determining whether it would be reasonable for a person to continue to occupy accommodation, to the general circumstances prevailing in relation to housing in NI.

5. A person may is also homeless if he has accommodation but –

(a) He cannot secure entry to it, or

(b) It is probable that occupation of it will lead to violence from some other person residing in it or to threats of violence from some other person residing in it and likely to carry out threats, or

(c) It consists of a moveable structure, vehicle or vessel designed or adapted for human habitation and there is no place where is entitled or permitted to place it and to reside in it.

6. A person is threatened with homelessness if it is likely that he will become homeless within 28 days from the day on which he gives written notice to the Executive that he is threatened with homelessness.

Priority Need for Accommodation.

Article 5 – part II Housing (NI) Order 1988

(1) The following has a priority need for accommodation –

(a) A pregnant woman or a person with whom a pregnant woman resides or might reasonably be expected to reside;

(b) A person with whom dependant children reside or might reasonably be expected to reside;

(c) A person who is vulnerable as a result of old age, mental illness or handicap or physical disability or other special reason, or with whom such a person resides or might reasonably be expected to reside;

(d) A person who is homeless or threatened with homelessness as a result of an emergency such as fire, flood or other disaster;

(e) A person with dependent children who satisfies the Executive that he has been subject to violence and is at risk of violent pursuit or, if he returns home, is at risk of further violence;

(f) A young person who satisfies the Executive that he is at risk of sexual or financial exploitation.

Intentionally

Article 6 -Part II Housing (NI) Order 1988

(1) A person becomes homeless intentionally if he deliberately does or fails to do anything, in consequence of which he ceases to occupy accommodation, whether in NI or elsewhere, which is available for his occupation and which it would have been reasonable for him to continue to occupy.

(2) A person becomes threatened with homelessness intentionally if he deliberately does or fails to do anything the likely result of which is that he will be forced to leave accommodation which is available for him to continue to occupy.

(3) For the purposes of paragraph (1) or (2) an act or omission in good faith on the part of the person who was unaware of any relevant fact shall not be treated as deliberate.

(4) Regard may be had, in determining whether it would have been reasonable for a person to continue to occupy accommodation, to the general circumstances prevailing in relation to housing in Northern Ireland.

Article 9 of the 1988 order allows for an internal appeal process. Applicants lodge their appeal with the regional manager, and then it goes to the director of Housing and Planning. An applicant is permitted to make representations. An alternative method is to challenge the decision in the courts by way of judicial review.

Unfit for Habitation.

A new set of unfitness criteria was introduced by the Housing (Northern Ireland) Order, 1992, and they relate to:

(a) Standard of repair;

(b) Structural stability;

(c) Freedom from damp;

(d) Natural lighting;

(e) Water supply

(f) Drainage and sanitary facilities;

(g) Food preparation facilities and disposal of wastewater.

Before the introduction of the Housing Order (NI), there was no official definition of homeless and no legal requirement to keep records of people who were homeless. As a result it was impossible to accurately quantify the select or nature of the problems. The housing Executive records information about every household presenting as homeless. Records are broken down by household type (e.g. single person) and presented under single subject (headings) e.g. reason for homeless, original home district. Thus it is possible to explore differences in the causes of homeless, between single people and families. B Kent 1998.

Statistics – Breakdown of presenters

Single Males (16 – 18 years)

1) (1994 – 95) 295

2) (1995 – 96) 282

3) (1996 – 97) 328

4) (1997 – 98) 313

5) (1998 – 99) 332

Single females (16 – 18 years)

6) (1994 – 95) 459

7) (1995 – 96) 533

8) (1996 – 97) 515

9) (1997 – 98) 584

10) (1998 – 99) 541

Reflecting the national situation in NI almost in five referrals (18%) to Simon Community projects in NI during 1996/97, involving interviews were aged 16 – 18. Similarity, eight hundred and forty three presenters (76%) to the Housing Executive during that year were aged 18 or under. Centrepoint, a London – based charity, recently conducted research in the capital, and six other locations in England and NI, involving interviews with over 7,500 homeless young people (Nassor & Sims, 1996). They found that growing numbers of highly vulnerable, very young people were becoming homeless. The charity estimated that four in ten young people on he streets ran away form home of absconded from care before they were 16 years old (Centrepoint & NSPCC, 1996). Evidence presented to the inquiry team from a range of organisations throughout the UK confirms this picture.

Homelessness amongst the very young

1) 66% of young people seen by the Young Single Homeless project in Portsmouth in 1994 were under 18, a 54% increase on the previous year and the largest increase for any group.

2) There was almost a three-fold increase in the number of vulnerable young people accepted as homeless by Leeds City Council between 1990 – 91 and 1994 – 95.

3) Hove YMCA reported that it has seen an increase in the proportion of under -18 year clients, with around 60% of enquires in 1995 coming from the group. Source: Evens, A (1996), P.6

A major National Inquiry (Evens 1996) found that youth homelessness is a growing problem, which is affecting every part of the country, including prosperous rural areas. The majority of young homeless people are concealed in a range of temporary housing situation, such as hostels, bed & breakfast accommodation, or staying with friends or relatives. Evidence presented to the inquiry indicates that a range of socio-economic factors, the most prominent of which is family conflict, precipitates homeless. Tension with families is often exacerbated by other – associated problems, including abuse, changing family structures, poverty and the impact of housing legislation and housing benefits.

References

Mc Closkey Ann, Keegan Gerry: A Survey of Youth Homelessness in West Belfast, Barnardoes 1992.

Waugh Sarah, Need of Provision for Young Single Homeless People CHAR, Dec 1992. Ch, 2 P.48

An Assessment of the needs of Young Single People in the Ards Borough Council Area, Simon Community 1998

Borrow Rodger, Please Nicholas and Quilgars Deborah: Homelessness and Social Policy, Routledge London 1997.

Homelessness 5 Years on Simon Community.

B Kent Homelessness in Northern Ireland, Simon Community

White Ciarren, Law for Northern Ireland Social Workers: Gill and Macmillan, Dublin 1996.

Building on success: Council for the Homeless.

Caplow, 1978

Holman, 1996

Di Salvo et al, 1995

Evens (1996)

Centrepoint, annual statistics

Nasser & Simms, 1996

Greve et al, 1971

Rowntree, 1996

DSS, 1995

Social committee, 1992 & 1995

Meadows, 1996.

Centrepoint & NSPCC, 1996

Centrepoint & NSPCC, 1996

Research Design

Method

This qualitative research will be descriptive and cross-sectional employing a social survey approach to the research question. This will incorporate the use of a standardised questionnaire formulated from an in-depth examination of the literature and with particular regard to the attitudes of homeless male and female young people in the age range of 16-18 years. Open and closed structured and unstructured questions will be incorporated into the questionnaire. In particular a 20-item Likert rating scale will be used to explore the attitudes of respondents to homelessness and the reasons why they became homeless. Other questions will be designed to elicit demographic details of respondents. The questionnaire will be administered on a one to one, face-to-face interview basis to each respondent within the sample population by the same researcher in order to minimise bias. Interviews will be conducted in a neutral, informal environment.

Sample

Probability sampling will be used. The sample will be drawn from one estate within one housing management district in Belfast as designated by the NIHE. A stratified random sample will be used in order to ensure that the appropriate gender representation is achieved within the sample. In total the number in the sample will be 10. Access to the population will be through one of the charitable agencies involved in homelessness and guarantees of confidentiality and anonymity will be confirmed with the individual participants involved in the research and the organisation providing access. Ethical issues will be dealt with in accordance with the protocols established by the statutory and charitable agencies for research activities. Informed consent will be sought from individuals within the sample and written details of the nature and purpose of the research project will be incorporated in correspondence sent to respondents.

Validity and Reliability

The careful construction of questions and the testing and re-testing of them are important aspects of striving to achieve validity and reliability. In this regard a small representative group of homeless young people unconnected with the study and drawn from a different agency than that used for the main study will be used to pilot the questionnaire. Participants in the pilot study will not be included in the main study. Results from the pilot study will be used to test the construct validity of the instrument. Content validity of the questionnaire will be verified with the use of a panel of experts drawn from within the academic field and the statutory and voluntary agencies concerned with homelessness. Data from the pilot study will be used to check the internal consistency of the questionnaire by the application of Cronbach’s alpha co-efficient statistical test. This checks the extent to which each of the items is measuring the same phenomena. A low Cronbach alpha score (Range = 0-1. An acceptable level is >0.80.) Indicates items that are not making reliable measures. Items of this nature may be eliminated from the questionnaire in order to improve the internal consistency of the instrument. The questionnaire will be modified as required taking account of the pilot study, the views of the expert panel and the Cronbach’s alpha co-efficient scores.

Data Analysis

Data from the structured closed questions on the interview schedule will be pre coded and will be analysed using statistical package SPSS Version 10.05. Structured open questions will where possible use existing and well-established codes prior to statistical analysis. Responses to unstructured open questions will be grouped and regrouped until categories which are representative and reflect the objectives of the research have been established. Content analysis text based computer packages including NUD*ISH may also be used to analyse data from open-ended questions.

The analysis will seek to establish trends and common themes related to the reasons for homelessness in 16-18 year old males and females in Northern Ireland. The data will be explored for simple causal relationships by analysing subsets of data defined by the variables including age, class, gender, income, ethnicity, religion and country of origin as well as the stated reasons for homelessness. This analysis will take the form of frequency distributions and descriptive statistics. Given the limitations of the small sample size it will not be possible to generalise results to a wider population of young homeless people in Northern Ireland. However the study will form the basis of a wider investigation that will compare and contrast the greater Belfast area with a selected rural location in order to further develop our knowledge and understanding of the complexities of homelessness among young people in Northern Ireland.

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