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25 Mar

The Role of Hostels and Temporary Accommodation


Sahlin, I. and Busch-Geertsema, V (2005)


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 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 the need for homeless hostels.