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"Housing First" – Evidenced-Based Advocacy

Civic participation Completed
2014-04-01 - 2016-03-31
323 425,19 PLN
279 675,19 PLN
local policies, homelessness
Project description
The Polish system of transitioning out of homelessness consists of traditional night shelters and hostels, where dozens of people are housed on bunk beds, supervised by social workers, under the condition of strict abstinence. For 43% of residents this “transitioning" lasts for more than 5 years, which is a clear indication that this type of help is ineffective. A momentum for change of such systems across the world came from the Housing First (HF) programme, which entirely reverses the traditional approach to assistance: the long-term homeless are provided with accommodation, which is precondition for a sense of security. Only afterwards people are provided with specialist support.
The objective of the project was to propagate HF and collect evidence that it is needed and possible in Poland.
11 electronic and one printed publication were prepared, 4 seminars and 2 flash mobs organised, a Polish and an English language versions of the website and the Najpierw Mieszkanie (Housing First) fanpage created, presenting the results of our research and expert opinions. They prove that a lot of shelter residents are in a situation practically identical with that of the clients of HF programmes: long-time homelessness, and cumulated mental health problems (at least 19% nationwide, 333 clients in Warsaw). Those homeless interact with several institutions, which does not translate into their breaking away from homelessness (since they remain homeless). It was surprising to find people who, in spite of several years of living “on the streets", had never received any assistance. Thanks to interactive visualisation of the history of interactions with institutions, everyone can trace the paths of our respondents. It turned out that most institutions cannot calculate the costs of interventions addressed to our respondents, so nobody can accuse the HF programme of being too costly, since nobody has ever calculated the costs of the programme's absence. Ther project has shown that HF can be introduced on the basis of the existing legal solutions. According to an external evaluation, 75% of the participants of the project were convinced that implementing HF in Poland is needed and possible.
Foundation cooperated with a Polish organisation providing direct assistance to people in homelessness crisis. Its staff collected data for one of the research projects and organised seminars and flash mobs. The foreign partner shared their knowledge about homelessness in Iceland.

Housing First

It’s simply inhumane that in XXI century people who are sick have to live on the streets even though we have tools to provide them professional and effective assistance – says Julia Wygnańska, project coordinator.