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European research shows most homeless people can maintain housing when rehoused

Prague, 28.10.2014 17:12, (ROMEA)
Former Czech PM and former EU Commissioner Vladimír Špidla giving the
Former Czech PM and former EU Commissioner Vladimír Špidla giving the "Ethnic Friendly Employer Award" in 2013. (Photo: František Kostlán)

The vast majority of homeless people who are rehoused quickly manage to maintain their housing and rebound. The success rates in various parts of Europe are more than 80 %, with 97 % success rates in some places.  

Those are the results of European research focused on the "Housing First" aid model. Research coordinator Mr Busch-Geertsema presented the results at a conference on social housing in Prague last week.  

According to the Government's Concept on Preventing Homelessness, there are around 30 000 people in the Czech Republic without a roof over their heads. Roughly 100 000 people are at risk of losing their housing due to debt or low income.

The groups most at risk are isolated seniors, large families, single parents and the unemployed. The Czech Republic does not have a law on social housing and the Government of Prime Minister Sobotka is drafting one.  

The plan is for the law to take effect at the end of 2016. The Platform for Social Housing and other experts are promoting the "Housing First" model in the Czech Republic.  

The advocates believe people in need should get regular housing as soon as possible as well as services and support from social workers. Some countries, however, use a different method to address homelessness.

That method involves preparing people for independent housing by gradually working their way up to it. Štěpán Ripka of the Platform for Social Housing believes many needy people never get onto the regular housing market that way and end up living in permanently in residential hotels or shelters.

The "Housing First" model is the focus of a European project that was conducted from June 2011 to July 2013. Its authors examined five programs for social housing, in Amsterdam, Budapest, Copenhagen, Glasgow and Lisbon, for people dependent on alcohol and drugs or with psychological difficulties who have ended up on the streets.

The researchers followed almost 200 homeless people. In Amsterdam, 97 % of the homeless people who were rehoused managed to permanently maintain their apartments.

In Copenhagen, 94 % of those who were rehoused rebounded thanks to the housing, while in Glasgow 93 % did and in Lisbon 79 % did. "People learn to swim best when they're in the water, not flapping about on dry land. When they get a lease for an apartment and are housed, they manage. If people with addictions can handle it, other people in need will manage even better. They don't need interim steps, but an apartment and the support of services," said Busch-Geertsema.

He believes the findings prove that it doesn't make much sense to build "transitional" housing or multi-stage "preparation models" for the homeless. Such endeavors are also expensive.

"In the final analysis, it is not more expensive to just give a homeless person an apartment," the research coordinator said. In his view, all groups who need social housing should have access to it - families, immigrants, members of minorities and single parents.    

According to former Czech PM and former European Commissioner for Social Affairs Vladimír Špidla, who is now chief advisor to the Czech Prime Minister, the "Housing First" method should be reflected in the country's new law on social housing. Municipalities, private residential housing owners and the state should be involved in providing social housing.

For example, in Belgium and Great Britain there are agencies that lease apartments from private owners and house the needy in them. The landlords' rent is guaranteed from the agency, Špidla described.

In his opinion, rent should be regulated in social housing. Prevention of homelessness should also codified into law.


ČTK, fk, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Bezdomovci, Housing, Platforma pro sociální bydlení, Výzkum



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