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The social and economic consequences of housing in multiple occupation (HMO) in UK coastal towns: geographies of segregation

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Coastal town populations in the UK are under‐researched dimensions of broader conceptual debates and fields of work on social segregation, deprivation and divided communities. This paper argues that housing in multiple occupation (HMO) is a key factor in the concentration of deprived social groups and reproduction of socioeconomic decline in some coastal towns. To investigate the scale of, and links between, HMO‐dominated coastal neighbourhoods and deprivation, the paper provides the first national‐level empirical analyses of HMO and housing benefit claimants in private rented housing. More specifically, the social and economic consequences of HMO in coastal towns are explored using the case study of Central St Leonards, Hastings, on the south‐east coast of England. This serves to demonstrate the processes leading to: spatial concentrations of deprived, unrelated, multi‐person households; high population transience and density; downgraded residential environments; and fragile community cohesion. It is asserted that understanding the restructuring of coastal population structures, social relations and housing markets is instrumental for furthering debates of social segregation and divided societies, particularly in light of changing national welfare and housing benefit policies.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Geography Department, Loughborough University, Loughborough LE11 3TU

Publication date: 2012-07-01

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