Sofa-Surfing: Using a Community-Based Approach to Tackle the Most Common Form of Homelessness

Authored by: Donatella PetrucciNoah DurbanAva JamesFaris LukeJames Wooding.

Published 2 months(s) ago.


Sofa-surfing is the largest form of hidden homelessness within the UK and one that is often overlooked in policies to tackle homelessness due to the inherent difficulties in quantifying the number of individuals who are sofa-surfing and the many interpretations of the term itself. Despite these issues, this research identifies and examines four key contextual features of sofa-surfing:

  1. The commonality of sofa-surfing as a homelessness experience.
  2. The short-term social and economic damages that sofa-surfing can have on an individual's livelihood for both the host and sofa-surfer.
  3. The disproportionate damages that can occur to people of a marginalised background in particular women and people on the Autism spectrum.
  4. The potential for sofa-surfing to become part of a long-term pathway into other worse or equally worse forms of homelessness.

As such, it is argued in this paper that despite the aforementioned difficulties, appropriate policies need to be introduced to tackle this form of homelessness alongside the larger fight to stop homelessness in the UK. In response to some of the key contextual features of the experience of Sofa- surfing, this paper argues for a focus on community centres as the main body to help tackle the issue. A decentralised approach to tackling the locally based nature of sofa-surfing, community centres can provide aid to both the sofa-surfer as well as its host. This can provide short-term aid to sofa-surfers such as meal provisions and clothing as well as long-term provisions like training courses depending on the funding given to these centres.

Read the full report here.