The phenomenon of homeless populations goes beyond the visible effect of people living on the streets. According to the European Union Ambassador to Brazil, Ignacio Ybáñez, "it is deeper and has serious consequences for the individual and society, such as reduced life expectancy, health issues, discrimination, isolation and barriers to access to basic public services and benefits and to the labour market."
The causes are diverse, complex and sometimes interlinked: unemployment, weak labour market, poverty, migration, population aging, health issues, broken social and family relationships, lack of social housing for rent and sale, inadequate support to people who leave care facilities, hospitals, jails or other public institutions.
One of the most successful approaches to this matter is the Housing First model, which focuses on helping homeless people get the streets off. This model does not require prior participation in any kind of treatment or rehab programme, rather it considers getting a home the starting point for a path of recovery, autonomy and social inclusion.
A significant number of studies from Europe, the United States, and Canada provide substantive empirical basis for stating that Housing First is effective in solving the issue of homelessness among those who have been in this situation for a long period of time. The rate of people who stay in the houses provided by the programme ranges from 85 to 95%, even in the case of people who need greater support.
Similarly, surveys conducted in several countries have concluded that Housing First programmes have lower costs than emergency and institutional housing responses. And in light of these successful results, Brazil has shown interest in learning more about this methodology.
The report "Is Housing First possible in Brazil? Housing for the Homeless in Europe and Brazil" is the result of the project "Housing for the Homeless - A Human Right," of the EU-Brasil Dialogues Facility. The project proposed an exchange of experiences involving Brazilian specialists and three cities of the European Union (Lisbon and Cascais in Portugal, and Madrid in Spain), considered successful cases in the coordination of services and assistance to the homeless population in the Housing First model.
The report brings the results of a detailed observation of the functioning of the European Housing First programme. It also seeks to identify Brazilian initiatives that follow these ideas to spread them nationwide, encouraging a transition from a model in which, in general, housing is the last "step" for the homeless population to a model where housing, work and independence become the focus of public policies for this population.
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