“Addressing homelessness is central to our mission” stressed Cédric Van Styvendael at his first time speaking on behalf of Europe’s public, social and cooperative housing providers addressing homeless service providers and housing activists and “to do this we need each other, which is why I’m very happy to be here at this session on Housing First, the first one I attend after being elected Housing Europe President.” Cédric’s first speaking engagement as President of Housing Europe was at an International Social Housing Festival session organised by the Housing First Hub.
Housing First is an initiative that promotes the idea that affordable, permanent housing, provided with social support, is the key to breaking a cycle of homelessness. It is a model that believes quality of life can exponentially increases from the moment one has a home. The Housing First European Hub is a platform designed for discussing, collaborating, and learning about how to scale up the Housing First initiative. Professionals, public authorities, researchers, service-user providers, and nonprofit organizations from Spain, the U.S., the U.K., France, Finland, and the Netherlands all took part to provide an insightful exchange of knowledge about Housing First initiatives in a European context. The pertinent question to answer during this session: how do we practically meet the challenge of scaling up Housing First in a European context?
Ruth Owen, policy coordinator at FEANTSA, hosted the session. Housing First has been on the European agenda for a while, but it needs to become a more operational reality. Seven speakers from three different European countries provided context and examples from their city specific situations with regards to social housing and Housing First.