A house is not a home: housing disadvantage, homelessness, and modern slavery

by Nick Clare, Steve Iafrati, Carla Reeson, Nicola Wright, Charlotte Gray and Henri Baptiste

04 May 2023
Journal of the British Academy, volume 11 (2023)
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Abstract: This commentary focuses on the underexplored links between housing disadvantage, homelessness, and modern slavery. Despite significant anecdotal evidence, there is a pressing need for proper theorisation of the connections between housing situation and vulnerability to modern slavery. This commentary combats this lacuna by focusing on four types of (un)housing: homelessness, safehouses, social housing, and the private rented sector. While each site has its own relationship to modern slavery, be it cause, consequence, or potential solution, commonalities emerge. Modern slavery is a form of ‘hyper-precarity’, and the ‘ontological security’ of a place to call home is crucial when combatting this. But a house is not a home, and security of tenure alone is insufficient – in fact in some cases tenure security can actually increase vulnerability to modern slavery. A sense of home can act as a bulwark against modern slavery, but poor housing and bad policies increase precarity, homelessness, and exploitation.

Keywords: Modern slavery, homelessness, social housing, safehouses, housing crisis

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