As a group, young people leaving care experience multiple forms of disadvantage, including high rates of homelessness and insecure housing. Researchers have described the associated housing and life trajectories in terms of pathways but few have explicitly referenced the metaphor to the interrelationship of structure and agency that is core to Clapham's housing pathways approach. In this paper we draw on semi-structured interviews with 77 young people who have left state care in the last five years. We identify two distinct pathways young people travel when they leave care: a smooth and a volatile pathway. Young people on both pathways face similar structural disadvantages but are differentiated in terms of their experiences in care, their ability to plan and control their transition into independent living, the degree to which supportive social networks are available and the constraints they face accessing and maintaining housing. We argue social networks are a particularly important element of the housing pathways of young care leavers, shaping, and being shaped by, their socio-economic position and engagement with institutions. They may offer important material and emotional resources that can support appropriate housing but they can also promote housing instability and entrench disadvantage.
- Housing pathways
- State care