How do poor families in Australia avoid homelessness? An fsQCA analysis

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Families experiencing homelessness are an increasing phenomenon in Australia. However, the question of why some families living in poverty and disadvantage become homeless and others do not is not well explained in the literature. Using fuzzy-set Qualitative Comparative Analysis (fsQCA), this paper investigates how recent “shock” or crisis events, poor health and financial stress interact with social capital and emotional well-being to affect housing security for Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australian families living in poverty. The analysis draws on 307 cases (individuals with dependent and resident children) from Journeys Home, a longitudinal survey of extremely disadvantaged Australian welfare recipients. The results are explained within a critical realist understanding of depth ontology, stratification, emergence and the interaction between structure and agency. Hobfoll’s conservation of resources theory provides a framework for thinking about homelessness as a severe form of poverty and resource depletion.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)275-295
Number of pages21
JournalHousing, Theory and Society
Issue number3
Early online date5 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • family homelessness
  • conservation of resources
  • critical realism
  • qualitative comparative analysis


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