“I’m so scared of people finding out where I live, I walk home on my own after my evening class, just to avoid having to tell people and being judged.”
People talked about being reluctant to disclose where they lived to potential new friends, employers and services.
Whether perceived or real, people believed that they would be judged or stigmatised because they lived in a hostel or supported accommodation. Many felt humiliated or embarrassed to say that they were homeless. This presented yet another barrier for people to overcome and allow them to move forward with their lives.
Mayday suggests removing all external physical signs that indicate that a property is supported housing. Using the previously mentioned PIE (Psychologically Informed Environments) training can ensure that properties do not become institutions. Instead, they are presented and operated as quality, affordable social housing. The walls can be filled with art and not negative posters. ‘Rules’ and restrictions are minimised in order to respect the rights and responsibilities of individuals.
Mayday recommends moving away from specific issue based accommodation, such as accommodation for offenders. We believe that this type of accommodation further stigmatises people. It extends the period that people are ‘labelled’ and often colludes with silo-based sector working e.g. ‘ex-offenders’ accommodation operated by the Criminal Justice sector. There is no evidence to demonstrate that housing offenders together delivers better outcomes than housing people directly into the community. In fact, the latter removes the stigma as people are not seen as ‘ex-offenders’ and are not in the company of other offenders. In addition, people can access personalised support while integrating back into the community.