The Potential of Housing First in the Rural Environment

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Presentation by Ruth Owen, FEANTSA, at the 2013 FEANTSA Research Conference, Alice Salomon Hochschule Berlin, 20th September 2013

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The Potential of Housing First in the Rural Environment

  1. 1. EUROPEAN RESEARCH CONFERENCE Housing First. What’s Second? Berlin, 20th September 2013 Housing First in Rural Environments Ruth Owen, Policy Co-ordinator, FEANTSA
  2. 2. EUROPEAN RESEARCH CONFERENCE Housing First. What’s Second? Berlin, 20th September 2013 Overview  Background  Extent of Rural Homelessness  Features of Rural Homelessness  Challenges  Overcoming Challenges  Conclusions
  3. 3. EUROPEAN RESEARCH CONFERENCE Housing First. What’s Second? Berlin, 20th September 2013 Background  Increasingly acknowledged amongst stakeholders that Housing First (HF) is highly effective in ending homelessness for people with support needs.  European consensus on need for “housing-led” policies to tackle homelessness.  However, little attention paid to the specificities of applying HF/ “housing-led” in rural contexts.  FEANTSA Housing Working Group “Housing- Led Solutions to Homelessness in Rural Areas”, published June 2013  .
  4. 4. EUROPEAN RESEARCH CONFERENCE Housing First. What’s Second? Berlin, 20th September 2013 Extent of Rural Homelessness  No European statistics on rural homelessness  Weak evidence base in most MS  Overall, existing evidence suggestions that:  Levels of homelessness lower in rural than urban areas  Homeless services concentrated in towns and cities  Nonetheless, rural homelessness and housing exclusion are persistent realities  Some degree of homelessness and housing exclusion in all MS in the HWG (Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Ireland, Spain, UK)
  5. 5. EUROPEAN RESEARCH CONFERENCE Housing First. What’s Second? Berlin, 20th September 2013 Features of Rural Homelessness  “Hidden” homelessness is common  Mobility is an important factor  Insecure and inadequate housing prevalent in some rural areas  Influence of the rural economy e.g. seasonal work in tourism and agriculture; tied accommodation  “High demand” and “low demand” rural housing markets result in different forms of homelessness and housing exclusion  Relative remoteness of social and health services can increase risk of homelessness and extreme social exclusion for people with support needs
  6. 6. EUROPEAN RESEARCH CONFERENCE Housing First. What’s Second? Berlin, 20th September 2013 CHALLENGES
  7. 7. EUROPEAN RESEARCH CONFERENCE Housing First. What’s Second? Berlin, 20th September 2013 Service Supply  Scarcity of homeless services due to limited demand/viability constraints  Limited capacity of mainstream social/health/employment/housing services to support case-management approach  Cost, time and safety implications of delivering “floating support over large distances with limited transport infrastructure
  8. 8. EUROPEAN RESEARCH CONFERENCE Housing First. What’s Second? Berlin, 20th September 2013 Housing Supply  Dominance of private (home) ownership and lack of housing to rent  Affordability constraints linked to urban- rural migration, 2nd home ownership, low levels of construction e.g. UK  Unsuitable stock e.g. lack of small units for single people, older people, young people starting out  Adequacy constraints linked to rural decline
  9. 9. EUROPEAN RESEARCH CONFERENCE Housing First. What’s Second? Berlin, 20th September 2013 Homeless Profiles  Lack of information about profiles of rural homelessness in Europe  HF proven to be effective in tackling “chronic” homelessness (longer-term homelessness amongst people with heavy support needs). Unclear how prevalent such “chronic” homelessness is in rural settings.  Some homeless situations specific to rural areas e.g. seasonal agricultural workers require own targeted solutions  Need to consider how the principals of HF can be applied to broader “housing-led” strategies in rural contexts e.g. targeted prevention
  10. 10. EUROPEAN RESEARCH CONFERENCE Housing First. What’s Second? Berlin, 20th September 2013 Community Factors  Small and/or close-knit rural communities may mean increased stigma of homelessness and make “price of failure” very high  On the other hand, such communities can be a resource for homeless people
  11. 11. EUROPEAN RESEARCH CONFERENCE Housing First. What’s Second? Berlin, 20th September 2013 OVERCOMING CHALLENGES
  12. 12. EUROPEAN RESEARCH CONFERENCE Housing First. What’s Second? Berlin, 20th September 2013 Role of Floating Support  Despite constraints (distance, cost, etc), floating support has potential to compensate for lack of specialist, residential homeless services in rural contexts.  Floating support services to (re)housed people can:  Prevent homelessness for people at imminent risk  Enable homeless people with support needs to stay in a rural context rather than move to the nearest/town city to access services  Compensate for the lack of residential homeless services in rural communities  Role of mainstream services and effective case-management especially important in rural contexts  Types of service: tenancy sustainment, family counselling, “dispersed” foyer for young homeless people etc
  13. 13. EUROPEAN RESEARCH CONFERENCE Housing First. What’s Second? Berlin, 20th September 2013 Adapting HF to Rural Areas  Precedent of adapting HF model to rural areas in the US  Pathways Housing First Vermont  Since 2010, housed 70 people in the state  Use of ICT  Home internet access; refurbished PC and difital literacy training to facilitate web-based visits  State-wide comparative study, Maine (Mondello et al)  HF services demonstrate significant cost savings in rural contexts  Reduced services costs for shelter, incarceration, ambulance transportation
  14. 14. EUROPEAN RESEARCH CONFERENCE Housing First. What’s Second? Berlin, 20th September 2013 Sources of Housing  Mobilising private rental e.g. Social Rental Agencies  Mobilising vacant stock e.g. East Cleveland Youth Housing Trust, UK  Mobilising specific land/property holders e.g. agricultural, church, defence, “bad banks”  Potential to mobilise private households e.g. boarding out scheme for frail elderly people in Ireland…???
  15. 15. EUROPEAN RESEARCH CONFERENCE Housing First. What’s Second? Berlin, 20th September 2013 Conclusions  HF can be implemented in rural areas  “Housing-led” responses more broadly can be relevant to rural areas, particularly floating support services  Housing supply and/or adequacy can be a major constraint  Service supply is also an important barrier  Relatively low and fluctuating demand is a challenge for service funding and sustainability
  16. 16. EUROPEAN RESEARCH CONFERENCE Housing First. What’s Second? Berlin, 20th September 2013  National/regional homeless strategies should take account of rural homelessness  Policy and service interventions need to be based on local needs analysis  Mainstream services have a key role to play  Some EU instruments could be mobilised – European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development  EU and MS legal frameworks needed to ensure adequacy of accommodation for seasonal workers

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