Experimenting and applying the Housing First model in the city of Rome, with its urban and social criticalities, through a 4 year housing project for homeless people and / or in situations of severe housing distress
Why in Rome
In Rome, an HF project with significant numbers has never been tested, due to the following reasons:
- Real estate difficulties: since the 70s there has been no more investment in public housing; housing costs (purchase and rent) are very high, especially if within the city context
- Institutional difficulties: weakness of social and welfare services (reduction of economic resources but classic models of intervention); high bureaucracy
- Social difficulties: high number of poor people, homeless and / or with serious housing problems; crisis of the city intervention networks (little sense of community).
Housing First Project in Rome
The project wants to experiment and apply the model of Housing First in Rome, inserting at home 40 beneficiaries without a home and / or in a situation of serious housing problems (in line with the categories provided for in the European Classification on serious housing exclusion and homelessness, ETHOS) in 4 years. This will happen following the eight key principles of Housing First in Europe that derive directly from the Pathways model, developed by Dr. Sam Tsemberis, in New York.
In line with the eight key principles of Housing First in Europe, Housing First in Rome, as required by the Guidelines for Contrast to Severe Adult Marginalization in Italy, is implemented based on the following preliminary conditions:
- consider housing as a basic human right and as a tool for personal care;
- being able to manage the commitment to work with people for as long as necessary for the acquisition of sustainable autonomy;
- equip themselves with free apartments in various parts of the city (possibly near central, collective spaces and places of city life);
- separate any treatment (eg psychological, psychiatric or detoxification from alcohol and drugs) from housing (intended as a right to housing);
- make use of a group of unpaid volunteers who can guarantee professionalism with a different profile that, depending on the target identified and the type of intervention approach used (intensive or supportive) is capable of preparing an integrated and transdisciplinary type of intervention;
- respect the subject’s self-determination;
- follow an approach to Recovery (ie support the person in recovering social relations with the community of reference, summarizing a social role, rebuilding a sense of belonging).
The HF project in Rome has given itself these operational lines:
- search for homes capable of accommodating cohabitation between 3-4 people because, based on the experience of the proponents, it is through coexistence that the paths of inclusion are more effective in Italy;
- a flexible approach will be followed that takes into account the particular conditions of the beneficiaries in the definition of the apartment group;
- it was chosen, in the definition of a budget to evaluate as a standard the model of cohabitation between 4 people with a project of accompaniment and social inclusion of 18-24 months, with an economic commitment decreasing over time, so that after 24 months the house reaches its own socio-economic autonomy.
From an operational point of view the project is managed by a Project Manager, who takes care of respecting the deadlines and manages the administrative and reporting practices of the project, and by a technical Committee, composed of 5 CSE and FIO.PSD professionals with decades of experience in services for people in absolute poverty and in the Housing First model in particular. The Technical Committee takes care of coordinating all the activities of the project, providing a technical contribution to the intervention teams composed of volunteers in possession of specific professional skills, who consider themselves necessary for the success of the project.
Each intervention Team is in charge of 5 houses and is composed of tutors of the inclusion process (inclusion tutors), who is paid and follows the houses, supported by volunteers, who take care of the inclusion path and of the accompanying the beneficiaries. Support for housing management is organized through weekly home visits, planned with the beneficiaries.
Each Team consists of at least:
- 1 social worker (volunteer)
- 1 inclusion tutor (employee)
- 3 volunteers with different professional skills (doctor, nurse, educator, etc.) and / or senior operators with more than five years’ experience in homeless services. As required by local legislation, in fact, (Lazio Region, l.r. 41/2003 and D.G.R. 125 and 126 of 2015) the volunteers who have a “documented five-year experience in socio-welfare services” can be compared to professional operators in the social-assistance field
Each operating intervention Team takes care of:
- SELECTION: identifying homeless citizens to propose participation in HF in Rome according to the defined targets, in agreement with the Technical Committee; enter into a written agreement with the beneficiary that details the different aspects of the project and in particular relating to housing (rent, utilities, participation in the cost of running the accommodation), the frequency of appointments and home visits by the operators, to support for access – if shared – to territorial health and social services as well as to procedures for dealing with emergency situations (including by telephone availability or emergency home visit);
- BUILDINGS: identifying and finding, in collaboration with the Technical Committee, apartments that are compatible with the needs, available resources and expressed preferences of citizens also on the private property market;
- FLEXIBILITY: modulate its interventions in relation to the specific conditions of housing problems of individual citizens, adapting and customizing the route proposals, identifying forms of support that include objectives defined in a way shared with the Technical Committee and forms of support that favor the strengthening the level of autonomy of the homeless citizens themselves, understood as active and responsible protagonists of the project path;
- ROUTES: specifically, proposing, arranging and defining with the interested beneficiary the personalized path aimed at satisfactorily inhabiting one’s home on the basis of aspirations, realistically achievable desires and resources that can be activated (taking care with particular attention to the choice of home, settlement housing and accompanying the concrete aspects of everyday life) according to the principles of the Housing First methodology and with an approach aimed at Recovery;
- MEDIATION: support and possibly mediate in favor of the beneficiary in relations with the tenant of the apartment by identifying guarantee instruments to cover any arrears, also by accessing, if possible, services and public income support schemes; support and mediate, if necessary, relations with the building manager, other tenants and neighbors, ensuring compliance with the bureaucratic and administrative requirements regarding the lease and that substantiate the beneficiary’s right to live;
- WORK: prepare interventions aimed at supporting job placement or active inclusion paths tailored to the beneficiary’s skills and competences aimed at guaranteeing the centrality and economic sustainability of one’s own path of autonomy through integrated information, guidance and consulting actions, inclusion in training and training courses;
- NETWORK: identifying and cultivating partnerships with subjects present in the local community thanks to which the user beneficiary can experience both work and training inclusion, and contexts of social relations, civic activation and emotional investment in order to promote empowerment, emancipation and contrast isolation and solitude also favoring choices of rehousing in housing shared with other citizens;
- REHABILITATION: to ensure that, in compliance with subjective time limits, if the homeless citizen expresses a clear and unequivocal refusal to the project or during the same, the conditions for continuing the journey cease to exist and / or the subject recedes – in a optically supporting the right to inhabit of every homeless citizen in the first place – the team, in concert with the Technical Committee, will undertake to re-modulate with him and with the reference services on the basis of wishes, expectations and resources realistically a concrete alternative hypothesis of exercising one’s own way of living can be activated by treating the landing to other housing resources, even temporary, of the service system.