9th meeting of the ESF Transnational Thematic Network on Inclusion was held on 27th and 28th February 2019 in Brno, Czech Republic, and it was hosted by Czech Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs. The meeting addressed the topic of social housing and housing first approach within the overarching theme of homelessness, poverty and social exclusion.
Participants - the European Social Fund (ESF) Managing Authorities (MAs), representatives of national ministries and organizations working on homelessness – could learn about the context of social housing and housing first in Czech Republic and particularly in Municipality of Brno. It was highlighted that the ESF plays a crucial role in providing social housing to people in risk of homelessness and social exclusion in Czech Republic. Municipalities of Brno and Ostrava are examples of successful implementation of projects that provide social housing based on the housing first approach to number of individuals and families. Social Housing Project, Housing First for Families and Housing First for Individuals are projects based on partnership (between municipalities, NGOs and universities) and integrated services (combination of person-centered social work and housing support). Testimonies of two beneficiaries of housing first projects in Brno demonstrated research findings of FEANTSA (European Federatiod of National Organisations working with Homeless) and University of Ostrava on positive aspects of housing first approach: housing first prevents homelessness, it helps to improve mental and physical well-being of beneficiaries, and it is cost-efficient for public authorities in a long-run.
Exchange of national realities among participants of the meeting showed that many countries still face challenges in implementing and promoting housing first approach. The lack of social housing stock and high share of private housing were highlighted as one of the main barriers for housing first approach across Europe.
Thematic Network on Inclusion will meet again in May on the topic of active inclusion and in June on the topic of deinstitutionalization.