The main results of the HOME_EU – Homelessness as Unfairness, European Horizon 2020 research project (GA 726997), were presented in the project final Conference in Madrid in June 2019 comprising studies focused on the opinion of the European Citizens about the relevance of solutions for homelessness, the Service Users rapports on individual, scattered and permanent housing; the service providers and service characteristics that are more effective for housing and community integration; how social policies and political stakeholders are probing to respond to a prevailing and persisting social phenomenon.
In the Service Users’ study, it was obtained convincing and consistent evidence that Housing First programmes are more effective than traditional staircase services in decreasing individuals’ time in homeless accommodation, increasing tie spent in private accommodation, decreasing psychiatric symptoms, increasing community integration, and promoting and enhancing capabilities.
The main results of Service Providers Study showed differences between Housing First (HF) and traditional services, in terms of goals, principles and factors affecting providers’ work. Regarding goals, HF providers emphasize clients’ autonomy and choice over their own personal goals. In traditional services, instead, the focus is on individualized support, but it is focused on service users’ basic needs (food, shower, shelter).
Also, on a representative panel of 5300 European citizens of 8 countries, was found that most of them are conscious of the increase of homelessness in their countries. The survey showed that 3/4 of them expressed a willingness for their governments to make a larger budget allocation to address homelessness, with the highest score in Spain (88%). The awareness that living on the street limits one’s capabilities, in different fields like employment or health is very high too, with more than 3/4 of participants acknowledging discriminations. Also found that 4,6% of respondents have been homeless themselves at some point in their lives. For more than 70% of citizens in all countries, Housing First appears to be a more suitable solution for the homeless than traditional services (i.e. transitional shelters); and 42% are willing to pay more for that innovative model.
Although core principles addressing poverty, housing supply; and even the Housing First approach are transversely incorporated in the national and strategic policy documents; the capabilities and health promotion of the service users as a focus of the policies evaluation dimensions is scarcely mentioned. Therefore, supported by an overall favorable public opinion of the European citizens, the HOME_EU consortium strongly recommend the advancement of the individualized, scattered and permanent Housing First model as a privilege solution in Europe.
Now it is the time to end homelessness.