Housing First Europe. Final report and local evaluation reports for Amsterdam, Budapest, Copenhagen, Glasgow and Lisbon
Housing First Europe was a Social Experimentation project funded in the framework of the PROGRESS programme of the European Commission. It aimed at evaluation and mutual learning of local projects in ten European cities.
The Housing First projects provide homeless people with complex needs immediate access to long-term, self-contained housing and intensive support.
The plight of homelessness exists across the EU, even in developed welfare states. The need for innovation in the homeless sector is therefore crucial. Housing First approaches are thought to be effective in tackling chronic homelessness, which is why they have received broad interest in Europe. The approach was originally developed in the United States and has been used predominantly to tackle chronic homelessness, especially of people with mental illness and co-occurring substance abuse.
In contrast to ‘staircase’ approaches, which predominate in many European countries, Housing First projects do not require homeless people to show evidence of being ‘housing ready’ before they are offered long-term stable accommodations. Housing First projects place homeless people directly into long-term, self-contained housing with no requirement that they progress through transitional programmes.
However, Housing First does not mean “housing only”: Substantial and multidisciplinary social support is provided to the re-housed homeless people assertively, though it is not a condition for them to participate in and comply with therapies or show sobriety and they cannot loose their tenancy for failing to do so.
In Europe, the Housing First approach to homelessness has been tested in a number of cities and some evaluations have been going on at a local level. The Housing First Europe project started 1st August 2011 and ended as planned in July 2013. It was implemented through a work programme which had two principle strands: A research and evaluation strand and a mutual learning strand.
In five European cities Housing First projects were tested and evaluated from a European perspective, leading to greater clarity on the potentials and limits of the approach and its impact on homeless people’s lives. These five “test sites” cities include: Amsterdam, Budapest, Copenhagen, Glasgow and Lisbon.
Housing First Europe facilitated mutual learning with additional partners in five “peer sites” cities where further Housing First projects are planned or being implemented and with a steering group whose job is to to steer the project evaluations and to monitor and evaluate the action. “Peer sites” include: Dublin, Ghent, Gothenburg, Helsinki and Vienna.