On 8 June HABITACT organised a seminar co-hosted by the Committee of the Regions which aimed to reflect on successful funding strategies, notably from EU sources, in light of the new Structural Funds regime from 2014-20. Four ESN representatives participated: Christian Fillet, ESN Vice-Chair; Soledad Castro, Xunta de Galicia in Spain; Carla Ventura, Institute of Social Security in Portugal; and Alfonso Lara Montero from the Secretariat.

In the introduction to the seminar, Stelios Kampouridis, Greek Ministry of Health and Social Solidarity, depicted a gloomy situation in which social housing and targeted homeless policies have already been reduced and planned to be abolished. In addition, Kampouridis referred to the inability of people to pay their home loans, what has further worsened the situation: “Only until two years ago, homelessness was a problem of very specific groups of people; now, however, new groups of population are emerging.”

In session one, models on budgeting and planning homelessness strategies were presented. Malin Ostling, from Gothenburg City Council, emphasized that “their main piece of work now is housing first and floating support as part of a future long-term homelessness policy.” Matt Harrison from Homeless Link UK, who presented the view of the service provider, reminded the audience of the difficult times we are facing with services shutting their doors: “Last year 5% of services for homeless shut the door in England”, and looked at areas to make savings, such as organisational change, staffing and delivery.

In session two, discussions focused on the cost-effectiveness of programmes, such as Housing First, in which a person is offered stable housing immediately rather than the traditional ‘staircase’ approach, which seeks to deal with other problems before placement in a flat. John van Leerdam, from Cebeon in the Netherlands, argued that cost-benefits analyses show that prevention is better than a cure through health care (ambulance costs, clinical stays, wards, detox units), criminal law and order (police detection and guidance, imprisonment) and housing (eviction). He referred to examples of programmes, such as Housing First in Finland, where savings estimates are 14000 euros per user in Tampere (Kaikanen 2012). Van Leerdam estimates that “for each euro spent on support housing, there are savings of 2.2 euros somewhere else.”

Further information available on the HABITACT website.