2016 FEANTSA Policy Conference

Leveraging the European consensus to win the fight against homelessness

Valoriser le consensus Européen: un levier pour vaincre le sans-abrisme

De Europese consensus als hefboom gebruiken om thuisloosheid te beëindigen

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Programme EN
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Programme FR
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Programme NL

Thursday 9 and Friday 10 June 2016

Conference Venue: Palais d’Egmont

#mygoalisahome

In 2010 the Belgian Presidency of the EU organised a European consensus conference on homelessness together with FEANTSA (the European Federation of National Organisations working with the Homeless) and the European Commission. The aim was to establish together with all relevant stakeholders a European consensus on some of the most essential questions related to homelessness. The consensus would then become the basis for a stronger role of the EU in the fight against homelessness. After two days of deliberation following the consensus conference, the jury, under the skilled chairmanship of professor Frank Vandenbroucke, formulated a consensus on the six questions selected by the stakeholders:

1. What does homelessness mean?
2. Ending homelessness: a realistic goal?
3. Are housing led policy approaches the most effective methods of preventing and tackling homelessness?
4. How can meaningful participation of homeless people in the development of homelessness policies be assured?
5. To what extent should people be able to access homeless services irrespective of their legal status and citizenship?
6. What should be the elements of an EU strategy on homelessness?

We believe that the European consensus reached in 2010 is still highly relevant and has not lost its potential to unite forces at European level to reverse the worrying European trend of rapidly growing homelessness. But we cannot ignore that during the last 5 years the world has moved on and the EU is now facing some new and unprecedented challenges. It is time to take stock of the progress made on the conclusions and recommendations of the jury, and to discuss how to further leverage the 2010 European consensus to progress on homelessness in the current political context in the EU.

That is why the Belgian Public Planning Service - Social Integration and FEANTSA decided to co-organise a European conference in Spring 2016 centred on the consensus reached in 2010 and to reinterpret and re-evaluate the consensus in light of new emerging challenges for Europe: increasing poverty, economic pressure on Eurozone and other countries, waves of refugees arriving from further afield, and more.

To this end, FEANTSA used its annual European policy conference, bringing together 300 homelessness practitioners from across Europe and beyond. This was the only European event of its kind, and it took place in the city of Brussels, Belgium. As always, it showcased various innovative practices to address the causes and symptoms of homelessness, and stimulated political debate on current and future challenges. Set in a difficult political context with the homelessness sector under mounting stress, there was a greater need than ever of European support to channel energy and resources towards lasting solutions.

This conference was an opportunity to:

  • Focus on some of the innovation in Belgian cities, including the results of the Housing First Belgium experiment;
  • Debate the European consensus, and ways to move forward together politically at EU level;
  • Showcase good practice in the field of homelessness across Europe in order to drive innovation to promote effective pathways out of homelessness;
  • Organise strategic discussions in a wide range of areas related to homelessness (health, housing, employment, migration, youth, prevention, and more)
  • Visit and discover some of the approaches to tackling forms of homelessness in Brussels.

This was a two-day conference based at the heart of Europe in the city of Brussels taking place on Thursday 9th June and Friday 10th June in the Egmont Palace (city centre). It was organised in cooperation with FEANTSA, the Belgian Public Planning Service - Social Integration, Housing First Belgium, and Steunpunt Algemeen Welzijswerk.

The activities on Thursday 9th June focused principally on the realities in Belgium with a one-day conference based on the national Housing First experiment in Belgium (set within the wider European context of Housing First developments in other countries) as well as the launch of the Housing First Europe Guide. In addition, we set up “hotspots” on the Thursday afternoon, offering the possibility of joining visits to Brussels services to address homelessness, as well as strategic networking meetings to bring people together around common issues of interest.

The Friday 10th June was the main European policy conference with a focus on presenting and discussing innovative practices from across Europe, with opening and closing plenary debates as well as a selection of morning and afternoon workshops (10 in total).

Friday 10th June

Workshop session I

1:Homelessness: highlighting different gender perspectives, challenges, and solutions

Specific challenges encountered by homeless fathers.
Marleen Heylen, CAW De Kempen, Belgium
The vital role housing plays in tackling and responding to domestic abuse.
Gudrun Burnet, Peabody, UK

2:Innovative housing solutions for homeless people

Good quality housing for very vulnerable people: the Domus project.
Sara Waelbers, Housing support worker, CAW Antwerpen, Belgium

Can empty housing genuinely be converted into real solutions for homeless people?
Bronagh D’Arcy, Development Director, Túath Housing, Ireland

3:Experience the Shared Solutions participatory methodology in practice
Key question to participants: “How can co-production be an effective way to deliver services?

Sanna Tivola, No Fixed Abode, Finland
David Kidd, Glasgow Homelessness Network, Scotland

4:Effective health interventions for homeless people – building bridges across sectors

Data matching: understanding the impact of homelessness on health services.Neil Hamlet, National Health Service, Scotland, UK

Mental health and homelessness: providing support to frontline workers working with homeless people.
Mahe Aja, Psychologist, Coordinator of the mental health support team, SMES-Belgique,
Belgium

5:Are you in? Building a European movement to end street homelessness

BSHF in partnership with FEANTSA is coordinating the European End Street Homelessness Campaign - a new pan European movement of cities, working together to permanently house Europe’s most vulnerable people and end chronic street homelessness in those cities by 2020.
Speakers talk about the experience of three of the early participating cities in the campaign Barcelona, Valencia, and London.

Marta Olaria, Advocacy officer, Arrels Fundació, Spain
Luis Perea (Strategic Development Director) and and Begoña Pastor (Director for Mediterranean Area), RAIS Fundación, Spain
Petra Salva, Director of Services, St. Mungos, UK

Workshop session II

6:Access to adequate accommodation for asylum seekers and the role of the homeless sector

Asylum reform in France and the evolving role of the homeless sector.
Juliette Delaplace, Migration policy officer, FNARS, France

The impact of the rising tide of asylum-seekers on the homeless sector in Germany.
Thomas Specht, Director, BAG-Wohnungslosenhilfe, Germany

7:Housing first/Housing led: Is it necessary to change the paradigm?

The role of social experimentation in driving change in the homeless sector : observations from Belgium.
Coralie Buxant, Coordinator, Housing First Belgium

European consensus-building to shift thinking in the homeless sector: key steps to launching the Housing First Europe online guide.
Maria-José Aldanas, Project officer, FEANTSA

8:National strategy on homelessness – key to success or pitfall?

Evaluation of the Danish homelessness strategy: mixed results.
Lars Benjaminsen, Researcher, SFI, Denmark
Dutch homelessness strategy – the key role of local authorities.
Rina Beers, Senior policy officer, Federatie Opvang, The Netherlands

9:How much does homelessness cost – the pros and cons of cost-efficiency argument

Results of recent research on costs of homelessness in Belgium – reflection on implications for public policy.
Danny Lescrauwaet, Steunpunt Algemeen Welzijswerk, Belgium

Human rights versus cost-effectiveness as drivers of public policy to address homelessness.
Julien Damon, Associate professor Sciences Po Paris, France

10:How can we effectively work together to prevent and end youth homelessness?

Policy recommendations on ways to address the effects of homelessness on children and young people in Flanders.
Bruno Vanobbergen & Leen Ackaert, Childrens Rights Commissioner, Belgium

A Way Home: innovative and effective model for prevention and collaboration to end youth homelessness in Canada.
Melanie Redman, Executive Director, A Way Home, Canada & Stephen Gaetz, Professor and Director of the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness, York University, Toronto, Canada