Dear FEANTSA Flash reader,
Welcome to the latest edition of the FEANTSA Flash. We hope you find it an informative and interesting read. Please do not hesitate to get in touch if you have a story you would like to see included in the next edition.
Read ahead to:
FEANTSA launches new website and logo!
The new responsive site has been designed to address the need for European-wide information on homelessness and will facilitate the gathering of knowledge on the causes and reality of homelessness across Europe and the effective methods and strategies that exist to reduce it across the continent. We hope you enjoy visiting our new website, and encourage you to send us your feedback!
HABITACT Peer Review
The 2016 HABITACT Peer Review took place in Barcelona on the 3rd and 4th of November. HABITACT is a FEANTSA network that focuses on the role of municipalities in tackling homelessness, and the Peer Review is an annual event in which the homelessness services of one particular European city are showcased, with participants attending from around the continent. This year attendees discussed Barcelona’s impressive data collection system on homelessness, the Housing First pilots ongoing in the city, as well as taking part in two site visits of homelessness services run by NGOs. There was particular interest in XAPSLL, the network of stakeholders in homelessness services that has been established in the city. The discussion paper on homeless services in Barcelona written by Dr. Volker Busch-Geertsma is available to read online.
FEANTSA President Joan Uribe speaks to La Vanguardia
“Sleeping rough kills” – the succinctly put message of FEANTSA President Joan Uribe when talking to La Vanguardia. In an interview that focused on the people affected by and the solutions to the homelessness crisis, Uribe discussed the issue of hate crimes committed against homeless people, a low life expectancy that comes with homelessness, the loss of dignity when one becomes regarded as urban furniture and the risk of being criminalised for not having anywhere to sleep. To read the interview in full (in Spanish), click here.
FEANTSA Youth release new video
The action taken on the UN International Day for the Eradication of Poverty (17 October) by FEANTSA Youth has been captured in a unique video, which shows members of the network promoting the importance of solving youth homelessness across 6 European cities. As mentioned in last month’s Flash, the action also aimed to highlight the housing as a human right approach outlined in Youth Rights! Right Now! Ending Youth Homelessness: A Human Rights Guide, a publication by Canada Without Poverty and the Canadian Homeless Hub.
Commission Autumn Package misses the point on housing
On November 16th, the European Commission outlined its social and economic priorities for the coming year in the European Semester Autumn Package. Unfortunately the housing priorities contained in the package are written with regard to housing more as a commodity than a social right. This is problematic in the context of 40% of poor people in Europe living in housing cost overburden, where one must pay more than 40% of disposable income on housing costs. FEANTSA welcomes the Commission’s focus on social policy, but feels that the objective of social policy should be to ensure a decent standard of life for citizens, and that the foundation of this is a decent home. Read FEANTSA’s position on the subject in full here.
Structural Funds for Spain and Portugal to be maintained
European Structural and Investment Funds are often used to help the most vulnerable and marginalised in society, so the news that a suspension of half of these funds to Spain and Portugal was proposed in response to transgressions of EU budgetary rules caused alarm among social services organisations. The announcement on the 8th of November, therefore, that the suspension shall not go ahead is welcome news. This came after members of the European Parliament had highlighted to the European Commission the impact on society’s most vulnerable that suspension of funds would have. For more information, including comments from the Portuguese finance minister and Spanish economy minister, click here.
Projects for care leavers can change lives
The Guardian has published an overview of services for young care leavers in Europe, a group that is particularly vulnerable to homelessness. These include the Garantie Jeunes in Pas de Calais, which is a care guarantee addendum to the European Youth Guarantee, which means that both care and employment will be guaranteed for care leavers aged 18-21. Another project is The Mentor Programme in Galicia paid for by the European Social Fund, which provides support for young offenders aged 16-25. Finally the Espai Cabestany in Catalonia offers a comprehensive guidance service for young care leavers. For more information, click here.
|More than 1000 homeless families in Dublin
In September the number of homeless families in Dublin surpassed 1000 for the first time. FEANTSA member Focus Ireland supports at least one family each day to move out of homelessness, but there is a clear need to step up prevention measures to stop both families and single people from becoming homeless in the first place, with the total figure of homeless people standing at 6,611 in Dublin. Focus Ireland point to two major factors in the current upward trend of family homelessness in the city: landlords exiting the rental market and rising rents. It is clear that an increased supply of housing in the city is key to preventing more homelessness. To read more, click here.
UK Government calls rough sleeping “an abuse of free movement rights”
In response to claims by the Migrants’ Rights Network (MRN) that the UK Government is badly failing homeless EU migrants in London, the Home Office has said that "Rough sleeping is an abuse of free movement rights and we will take action, where appropriate, against European Economic Area nationals who refuse to find alternative accommodation". The criticism of the government is the result of the appearance of camps of homeless EU migrants in London, whose wages are often too low for them to afford housing. The MRN suggests that instead of deporting people for living in extreme poverty, a better solution would be for policymakers to coordinate an improved housing policy, so that these migrants are not left to sleep outside. For more on the story, see here.
55,000 new houses proposed for Berlin
The incoming administration in Berlin has set out plans to build 55,000 new houses over the next five years. As part of this new build there will be houses specifically set aside for homeless people, those with mental health problems and women who have been victims of domestic abuse. Rents will be controlled so that they are in line with the income of the occupant, and will rise by only two percent per year. Around half of the new units will be social housing. For more information, click here (in German).
Innsbruck plans fines for rough sleepers
After spraying water on the ground where rough sleepers usually spend the night in Innsbruck did not stop them from being homeless, the city council has adopted a proposal to fine rough sleepers sums up to €2000. Mayor Christine Oppitz-Plörer’s reasons for proposing the ordinance were to prevent homeless people from freezing to death and from being the victims of crime, but the move comes after complaints from local business owners. Innsbruck is not the first local authority in Europe to criminalise rough sleepers, but it is part of a worrying trend of policies intended to punish homeless people rather than help them. These kinds of ordinances do not help to reduce homelessness, but simply to hide it; leaving rough sleepers further marginalised and with reduced access to services that could help them. To read more, click here (in German).
Edinburgh spends £2.7m on emergency housing
Costs for emergency housing in Edinburgh have more than doubled in a year, with homeless charity Shelter Scotland putting the rising costs down to a lack of affordable housing in the Scottish capital. This rise is part of a longer-term trend, with costs having increased nineteen-fold from 2010-11 when the council spent only £146,174 on emergency housing. Another reason for the high costs is the disparity in cost between different temporary housing units in the city. There have been calls from some councillors for a taskforce on homelessness to be established, in order to see how the money spent on homelessness can be spent in the most effective way. Read more here.
Increase in requests for homelessness services in Milan
Caritas Ambrosiana has released a report on poverty in Milan focusing on the housing crisis. The Servizio Accoglienza Milanese has recorded a 21% increase in homelessness since 2014. The rise has had a disproportionately high impact on young people. The cause of this rise appears to be the drop in income against the cost of housing, meaning that more and more residents face evictions. To see more, click here (in Italian).
Czech law on social housing to be debated
A proposed law on social housing is to be debated in the Czech Parliament between December and February. NGOs, academics and municipalities are calling for the adoption of set standards with regards to social housing, but it is not clear if the law will pass. There is currently no legislation on social housing in the country, but housing is provided by charities such as Armády spásy, the Salvation Army, who provide housing-led services to people in acute homelessness. The new law could greatly increase provision and lead to more even distribution of housing services across the country, by obliging municipalities to identify the need for social housing in the area under their control, and then to ensure that there is sufficient capacity to meet this need. For more information click here (in Czech).
Homeless Day in Spain
Over the period from the 14th to the 27th of November a series of events were held in Spain to raise the profile of homeless people. Using the slogan “Hazme Visible” (make me visible), people took part in marches, open days, cinema screenings, workshops and exhibitions with the aim of upholding the dignity of homeless people and working towards a future where we have nobody homeless. Events were coordinated by Faciam, a network of homeless organisations in Spain, and this was the 24th year the Nadie Sin Hogar (Nobody Homeless) campaign has been run in the country. Read more about what went on here (in Spanish).
1 in 3 UK councils cite homelessness as a reason for taking children into care
Inside Housing has conducted an investigation into the link between homelessness and children being taken into government care in the UK and found that one in three UK councils used homelessness as the central reason to take children away from their parent or guardian in 2014 and 2015. The information was gathered using the Freedom of Information act and comes after a 2015 ruling by The Supreme Court created new rules for councils with regard to housing homeless families in another local authority area. Legal experts suggest that English case law obliges local authorities to ensure that families remain together “unless there is a good reason to separate them”. To read more, click here.
Office of the Polish Diaspora has plans to fund NGOs helping homeless Poles abroad
The number of homeless Poles abroad is growing. It is estimated that there are around 10,000 homeless Polish people in Paris and its environs, as well as a large number in London. NGOs such as the Camillian Social Assistance Mission provide help for these people in Paris, especially with barriers such as translation and comprehension of documents. French social services work in close cooperation with these organisations, helping to locate the families of homeless people and providing contact with hospitals. Unfortunately the charity provision, chiefly funded by the Polish community, does not have the capacity to help everyone who needs it. The Office of the Polish Diaspora, part of the Polish senate, has outlined plans to provide grants to NGOs helping homeless Poles abroad, so that more people will be able to access services from 2017. To read more click here (in Polish).
International Homelessness Conference held in Russia
A conference called “Help the homeless: approaches, practice, experience” was held in St. Petersburg on the 14th of October. It was organized by the St. Petersburg's non-profit organisation Nochlezhka, a corresponding member of FEANTSA. Presentations at the conference looked at good practice in homeless services, mental health and homelessness and homelessness in the Russian context. Alongside the large number of Russian participants, there were presentations from Jakub Wilczeck from Brother Albert’s Aid Society in Poland and Vlada Petrovskaja from Vailla Vakinaista Asuntoa ry in Finland. You can download the reports presented at the conference (in Russian) here. If you would like to attend the 2017 conference please send a message to coordinator Aleksey Varsopko.
Fio.PSD to hold an international conference on Housing First
On the 6th of December, Fio.PSD will hold a one-day conference on Housing First in Turin. The progress of the Italian Housing First programme will be discussed, after it has been in operation for two years. Best practices, results and future challenges will be part of the discussion, with the event titled There's Only One Way: The House. The month will also mark the thirtieth anniversary of the establishment Fio.PSD. Find out more here (in Italian).
Homeless Link publishes toolkit for destitute migrants
The Strategic Alliance on Migrant Destitution (SAMD) is an English organisation that has brought together service providers for migrants and homeless people and discussed ways in which the two sectors can work together. As a result of these discussions, the Migrant Destitution Toolkit has been created, which focuses on how to facilitate local partnership working and develop pathways out of destitution. It contains resources and guidance, as well as examples of best practice in the field. Migrants who do not have access to mainstream benefits often have difficulty in accessing housing services as well, so it was felt a toolkit was needed to provide advice to service providers in helping this group. Download the toolkit for free here.
Shelter England’s homeless helpline takes a call every thirty seconds
Shelter’s advice line has experienced an increase of 50,000 calls over the past year. A group of British MPs have cited changes to housing benefits as being a factor in the rise of 30% in rough sleeping in England between 2014 and 2015. Another factor in the rise of homelessness and rough sleeping in England has been the shift away from social housing towards renting in the private sector. Over the last year nearly 19,000 households have been evicted from private rented properties, an increase of 200% compared to five years ago. It is hoped that the Homelessness Reduction Bill currently going through parliament will act to prevent more evictions. For more information click here.
Finland leads the way on reducing homelessness with Housing First
Finland is unusual in Europe for its falling number of homeless people. The figure now stands at around 7,000 from a high of around 18,000 in 1987. The Housing First approach has been fundamental to reducing the numbers of acutely homeless people, especially since the launch of the Paavo housing strategy in 2008. Paavo saw the conversion of existing homeless shelters into rental flats for homeless people as well as targets for the number of new housing units to be built by each municipality in the ten cities taking part in the programme. To read more about Paavo and Housing First in Finland, click here.
Social Inclusion Journal focuses on homelessness
The most recent edition of the journal Social Inclusion is focused on the topic of homelessness and includes articles on LGBT+ youth homelessness, homelessness policy change in north-western Europe and Housing First and social integration, among others. Find the journal online here.
Study finds housing homeless people 30% cheaper than keeping them homeless
A recent study by Cameron Parsell, Maree Petersen and Dennis P. Culhane has found that the costs to the state of keeping someone homeless are significantly higher than housing them. The data is drawn from police, prison, probation, parole, courts, emergency department, hospital admitted patients, ambulance, mental health and homelessness services and shows that the basis for reducing homelessness is not only moral, but is also cost-effective. The article is available online here.
Homeless Hub Canada publishes Youth Homelessness Survey
The results of Homeless Hub Canada’s Youth Homelessness Survey have been published, drawing on the experiences of 1,103 participants from across the nation. The analysis in the survey concludes that more needs to be done to prevent youth homelessness and interventions need to be made at an earlier stage. When services are not available until someone is sixteen or eighteen years old, the damage that homelessness can have on young people has often already occurred. Access the survey here.
Report published on Barcelona’s mortgage crisis
The Observatori DESC and la Plataforma de Afectados por la Hipoteca have published a report on Barcelona’s mortgage crisis 2013-2016. The report has a focus on the right to housing, looking at policy at various levels of government, and includes detailed data analysis as well as recommendations. Find the full report online for free here.
Housing Not Handcuffs report on criminalisation of homelessness in the USA
The National Law Centre on Homelessness and Poverty has published a report on ending the criminalisation of homelessness in US cities. The report highlights the way that criminalisation can trap people in homelessness, as well as adding a greater cost burden to the state. Read the full report online for free here.
European Journal of Homelessness, Volume 10, No. 1
Volume 10, Number 1 of the European Journal of Homelessness is available online and in print. To order a copy, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Comparative Study on Local Connection Rules and Access to Homelessness Services in Europe
The fifth book in the European Observatory on Homelessness' Comparative Studies on Homelessness series now online and in print. To order a copy, please contact email@example.com.
|#Por Dignad #Nadie Sin Hogar annual campaign
The annual awareness-raising campaign by by Caritas Española and Fepsh, Faciam, Bestebi and Xapsll began on 27 November. Follow the hashtags #PorDignidad and #NadieSinHogar to keep up to date.
FEANTSA 2017 Policy Conference in Gdansk
The FEANTSA Policy Conference 2017 will be held in Gdansk, Poland on the 19th of May. The conference is an opportunity for people working in homelessness from across Europe to meet, discuss their work and find out more about homelessness services and practices from around the continent. Stay up to date with conference news on the FEANTSA website.