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Brown, KA, Keast, RL, Waterhouse, JM & Murphy, GD 2009, 'Social innovation to solve homelessness : wicked solutions for wicked problems', paper presented to European Group of Public Administration Conference, Malta, 2-5 September.


Homelessness is a complex problem that manifests in all societies. This intractable and ‘wicked’ issue resists single-agency solutions and its resolution and requires a large, on-going investment of financial and professional resources that few organisations can sustain. This paper adopts a social innovation framework to examine government and community sector responses to homelessness. While recent evaluations and policy prescriptions have suggested better integrated and more co-ordinated service delivery models for addressing homelessness, there is little understanding of the innovation framework in which alternative service system paradigms emerge. A framework that identifies/distils and explains different innovation levels is put forward. The framework highlights that while government may lead strategic level innovations, community organisations are active in developing innovation at the service and client level. Moreover, community organisations may be unaware of the innovative capacity that resides in their creative responses to resolving social crisis and marginalisation through being without shelter.

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