Combining ESF and FEAD to help social inclusion of homeless

Target groups of housing
EU funded project



According to the Ministry of labour in Italy, in 2017 the number of homeless in the country is 43,595

Concerning the broader housing state of play, the public social housing sector with about 700 thousand homes across the country addresses the needs of a more vulnerable and low-income population, selected by municipalities through a system of waiting lists. According to Eurostat only 4 % of the Italian population have access to housing with a subsidised rent, almost a third of tenants who pay rents at market prices were overburdened by housing costs in 2017, and the severe housing deprivation rate remains very high at 11.1 % (compared with a EU average of 5.6%). Source: State of Housing 2019, Housing Europe,


Issues tackled

Since the definition of the Partnership Agreement in 2014, the Ministry of labour and social policies has shaped the national policy for homeless and most deprived persons through a complementary use of EU Funds and national funds. The goals of the complementary ESF and FEAD Operational Programmes (NOP and OP I FEAD) include overcoming emergency approaches, promoting systemic and structured responses and ensure tailor made interventions.

In detail:
• FEAD: not only provision of basic relief for emergency situations, but a strategic instrument for social inclusion of the most vulnerable people.
• Operational Programme I FEAD, Measure 4 “Homeless and other vulnerable groups material deprivation”
• ESF: strengthen the public services network to facilitate the social first aid, working in synergy and complementary with FEAD according to the same policy strategy.
• NOP “Inclusion” Axis 1 and 2 Action 9.5.9 – “Funding projects in main urban areas with specific interventions aiming at reinforcing the early social interventions for homeless people and
supporting them in independence paths”.

The National guideline highlights the following assumptions:

1.Poverty is a multidimensional phenomenon

2.Deprived people are a resource (not only a cost)

3.Housing is a human right

Its main recommendations:

  • Ensure public governance of the policy concerning homelessness
  • Overcoming fragmentation and sectorial responses
  • Promote, spread and integrate social innovation in the present system
  • Ensure an integrated strategic model of intervention based on collocation, collaboration, co-operation
  • Promote active inclusion through a multidimensional care planning (taking charge)
  • Shifting to housing led and housing first approaches for the homeless inclusion


The beneficiaries of the scheme are Metropolitan cities and municipalities with more than 250.000 inhabitants and 1. 000 homeless/deprived persons; Regions (directly or delegating local authorities)

The Guidelines are binding for regional governments and stakeholders using public funding from their own budgets as well as from EU budgets (including FEAD and ESF funds). The guidelines provide a common definition of homelessness (based on the European Typology of Housing Exclusion – ETHOS). They also emphasise that the Housing
First approach should be a main and uniform feature of public policies tackling homelessness.

Actors involved

  • Metropolitan cities and municipalities
  • Regions
  • Ministry of labour and social policies
  • Italian Federation of Organizations Working with Homeless People

Actions carried out

  • development of integrating services
  • empowering cooperation among services
  • implementing social intervention plans
  • Supplying of goods
  • Social accompanying


The actions involved developing integrating services, empowering cooperation among services while implementing intervention plans at local level. Both social inclusion actions and supplying of goods were implemented complementarily to other social and inclusion action plans financed by other ESF programmes, such as NOP «Metropolitan cities», Regional Programmes and other actions supported by NOP «Inclusion».

The actions reached out 10,000 homeless people in Italy.

Why it works

The success factors of the scheme include:

  • The Bottom-up process and Participative approach between the Ministry, Regional and Local governments to share best practices and guidelines (and fio.PSD as Technical Secretariat)
  • Overcoming the old-fashioned emergency approach
  • Focusing on a Human rights-based approach
  • Guidelines are binding for services using EU budget

Beyond the above, the sensibilisation work of all partners, the promotion of the new culture and social innovation are definitely part of the success. As the Ministry also underlined in its Guidelines, looking to homeless people as resources should be base for change.

Lessons learned:

– Co-production and public-private partnership (PPP)
– Innovation vs strengthening services
– Focusing not only on shelter
– Accommodation and Case Management
– Housing is the answer
– Material distribution accompanying the housing projects



More information

ESF and FEAD support: € 100 million (50% + 50%) for the timeframe between 2016 and 2019.

More info on the results: Presentazione standard di PowerPoint (

Implementing partner: Italian Federation of Organizations Working with Homeless People, Caterina Cortese
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