Preventing Youth Homelessness through Social Procurement in Construction: A Capability Empowerment Approach

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Sustainability, 2021, 13, (6), pp. 1-18
Issue Date:
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Homelessness is a serious and growing problem in the UK, exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis. The latest figures estimate that 160,000 households are at risk of the worst forms of homelessness. Employment is widely recognised as being critical to reducing homelessness, yet there has been no research into the role that the construction industry, as a major UK employer, can play in reducing this problem. The aim of this paper is to address this gap in knowledge and contribute to the emerging social procurement debate in construction by exploring the role that construction employment can play in reducing the risk of homelessness. Mobilising Sen’s and Nussbaum’s capabilities empowerment approach, an in-depth case study is presented of a construction employment program in Wales, UK, which was aimed at supporting young people who had experienced or who were at risk of homelessness. Contributing to the emerging social value and social procurement debate in construction and drawing on documentary analysis and interviews with young people who were homeless or at risk of homelessness who went through the program, findings indicate that these young people became empowered in ways which reduced their risk of homelessness. It is concluded that the capabilities empowerment framework is valuable in explaining how employment in the construction industry can reduce the risks of homelessness for disadvantaged youth with a care-experienced background or who were known to the criminal justice system.
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