Économie et Statistique n° 391-392 - 2006The Homeless
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A survey of the people who frequently use homeless shelters or hot meal distribution services (l'enquête auprès des personnes fréquentant les services d'hébergement ou les distributions de repas chauds) ended with a deliberately vague question in order to give the homeless the rare opportunity to make their opinions heard. Half of the homeless people surveyed seized this chance for various reasons, and their responses were equally varied, both in terms of the issues raised and their expression. One fifth of those surveyed talked about the survey itself, generally to rate its quality, but also to criticise it for being too long or for containing redundant questions, questionning its overall usefulness. A third focused on their difficulties in finding housing or work, or even both, criticising the vicious circle in which they are trapped: they need to have a job to access housing, and vice versa. One fifth used the opportunity to give their opinion about homeless shelters, either to praise them as part of the reintegration process, or to critisize the living conditions there. One in ten criticized the support services in general or directly criticised the support workers they had had contact with, such as social workers, whilst eight out of ten stated that they were satisfied with the contact they had had with the different services in other questions in the survey. Other issues were raised, but to a lesser extent, such as family, whether this be parents and conflicting relationships or the nuclear family and the difficulty of preserving it in their circumstances, long-winded administrative procedures, life on the streets and the future. The responses to this final question not only suggest new ways in which such questionnaires could be improved, but also report on the persistent problems which people without official documents, couples, families and even young people face.