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Peer Review in Denmark: Sustainable ways of preventing homelessness

19/12/2013 Peer Review in Denmark: Sustainable ways of preventing homelessness

Across the EU homelessness stands at an unprecedentedly high level, particularly among young people. On 22 November, Peer Review participants met in Copenhagen to learn how Denmark has tackled homelessness using an integrated housing-first strategy.

Host Country: Denmark

Date: 22 November 2013

Peer countries: Austria - Bulgaria - Croatia - Finland - France - Ireland - Norway - Romania - Spain - Sweden - United Kingdom

Stakeholders: Eurocities,FEANTSA

The EU Social Investment Package (SIP) includes a call toward Member States to implement comprehensive strategies for tackling homelessness “based on prevention, housing-led approaches and reviewing regulations and practices on eviction”. The Danish National Homelessness Strategy (2009-2013) offers an example of how to implement the “housing first” principle – where access to permanent housing with support precedes other interventions – in a cost-effective manner. As such, the Peer Review supports SIP as well as the EU2020 Strategy, which includes a target to lift at least 20 million people out of (the risk of) poverty and social exclusion by 2020.

Lessons learned

  • The Danish experience demonstrates that the ‘housing first’ approach is more successful at tackling chronic homelessness than the ‘staircase’ approach. The distinctive feature of housing first is that it is not conditional of housing readiness; instead it offers homeless people direct access to permanent housing, coupled with flexible and individualised home-based support.
  • Evidence-based programmes, such as the one pursued in Denmark, help leverage political support by showing - through systematic monitoring and evaluation - how they reduce homelessness levels and related costs.
  • Housing first implementation presupposes a sufficient stock of affordable housing and better coordination between policy makers both at central and local level, with the involvement of service providers.
  • More attention to prevention and holistic responses to youth homelessness are required. Indeed, in the context of dealing with rising youth homelessness, as well as other vulnerable people, early, targeted, tailor-made actions are more efficient.

Peer Review manager

Ms Katja Korolkova (ÖSB Consulting GmbH)