By combining an analysis of the unhoused response with an ethnographic study of the lived experiences of unhoused people in Leipzig, Germany, this article offers insights into how rough sleepers understand home. The focus is on men and women who exited unhoused shelters and returned to the streets; on their experiences in shelters and their practices of homemaking on the streets. Whereas legal and policy frameworks often equate home with house, unhoused people locate home in relationships, affects, routines and in time. In Leipzig shared shelters that are separated by sex are used to move as many people off the streets as possible. But to unhoused people home is first and foremost their relationships. Policy and practice misunderstand that unhoused people exit shelters because they cannot live intimate, personal and family life there, not because they refuse assistance. To be effective, services must overcome the dissonance between their perceptions of home (infrastructural, spatial) and those of their target groups (social).
- rough sleepers