Methodological & Informational support to municipalities to develop social housing

Prague, Czech Republic Target groups of housing
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EU funded project
“The behaviour of my sons has improved because they have their own rooms and they are more quiet.”

Description

Context

In 2015, 40% of the population was housing cost overburdened. Housing exclusion and homelessness is increasing, homeless people and people at risk of losing housing represent already 187,000 in 2015. In 2017, the need for homeless shelters is already double than the available capacity.
The lack of affordable quality rental housing is real. The public rental represents only 8 % of the total housing stock. Therefore, social housing is crucial to address the needs of vulnerable groups.

The main challenge however is the discrimination of target groups, that is why the project is strongly based on principles of inclusion and non-discrimination:

  • all of collaborating municipalities must follow
  • non-discriminatory measures and general help to fight prejudices (analysis and guidelines supporting inclusion)
  • special focus on vulnerable groups (people at risk of eviction, single parents with kids, people with disabilities, young people after leaving institutionary care)

 

The project began in 2016 as part of the Czech government’s effort to introduce Social housing to the Czech Republic. The objective is to help in the setting up and developing of a system of Social Housing and to provide adequate methodical support to 16 municipalities and other Social housing providers.

77,56 % of the project budget is covered by ESF (under Operational Programme Employment) and 22,44 % by State budget.
Timeframe: Febr 2016-Dec 2020

Issues tackled

The project includes the following activities:

  • international cooperation
  • research and analysis
  • education and methodologies
  • collection and distribution of information
  • An established Liaison centre
  • Municipalities to carry out the pilot testing of social housing models.

The methodical and informational support will be based on the experience gathered from foreign partners, the transfer of good practice from other EU countries, translated handbooks, research activities and also regular consultations with experts in the field.

Informational support aims to help setting up and developing the system of Social Housing and to provide adequate methodical support to 14 municipalities and 2 of Prague’s city districts.

International cooperation

  • Gathering experience from 7 foreign partners (5-days-long educational visits)
  1. Netherlands (Jutphaas Wonen)
  2. Finland (Y-Säätiö)
  3. UK, Scotland (Motherwell and Wishaw Citizens Advice Bureau)
  4. Belgium (Housing Europe)
  5. Austria (Verein Wohnen)
  6. Sweden (SABO and the City of Stockholm)
  7. Ireland (Focus Ireland)
  • all information were translated into handbooks about Social Housing, into numerous research activities, and also regular consultations with experts in the field in the Czech Republic.

Research and education

  • Field research and 4 types of analysis for implementing the system of Social Housing:

1) analysis of residential segregation in 10 selected municipalities

2) research of neighbour relations in localities where Social Housing is being implemented

3) comparative analysis of foreign practices with focus on equal access to SH

4) long-term field research of housing conditions with focus on SH

  • Adequate education

–seminars & lectures to social workers from municipalities and employment offices’ workers dealing with clients in SH

–regional workshops for representatives of municipalities

–practical guidelines, case studies (eg: how to interlink social work and housing policies with other instruments of social policy)

Collection and distribution of information

  • Setting up a Liasion Centre that

–Gathers relevant knowledge and share it with

–Municipalities, other key players (NGOs, academia, etc)  and general public

–and provides Methodical leadership in the pilot testing

  • A complex set of communication activities to raise public awareness about Social Housing (press releases, newsletters, web pages, conferences, seminars, brochures, etc.)

Actors involved

  • Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs
  • European Social Fund
  • 16 Municipalities
  • NGOs working in the field

Actions carried out

  • Establishment of a Liaison Centre (LC)
  • International cooperation (visiting best projects in Europe)
  • Research and analysis
  • Education and methodologies
  • Distribution of information to municipalities
  • 16 Municipalities carried out pilots of social housing models
  • Organisation of an international conference in Prague

Results

In the first two years, the project has had time to achieve impressive results across its several designated key activities.

The initial priority was ensuring a proper methodology and direction of the project. This stage of the project has brought together external sources of information (through the study and adoption of best practice from across Europe and internal developments) while utilizing a group of experts and regional meetings with stakeholders. Theoretical framework thus established, the project’s Contact Centre fully came into its own. It consists of a group of ministerial employees offering advice and guidance to NGOs, local officials and also for individuals in need.

The most important contribution of the project to the development of social housing is its support to municipalities, which has led to the creation of services providing social housing or expanding it in 16 municipalities across the state. Those cities and villages now function as an example providing inspiration and experience to other interested parties while simultaneously proving that social housing is a successful and beneficial concept, advantageous for the whole community.

Why it works

Cooperation between the government and municipalities is necessary in the realization of the project which allows for mutual learning. The Ministry gains valuable experience in dealing with individual clients and from the administrative process on the regional level. This insight is reflected in national strategic policies, making them grounded in practice and better applicable.

Another lesson learnt from the project is the fact that even small municipalities need social housing. Local politicians’ fears of renting flats to potentially insolvent clients can be eased by initial short-term lease contracts. More valuable insight shows that social work with clients in social housing facilitates smoother and faster integration and recovery, also vastly improving the odds of the client retaining the housing. A roof to live under and a social worker’s support are the main factors in improving clients’ quality of life.

Thanks to the project, municipalities improved their client selection processes and catalogued their housing capacities. Local housing departments and social departments are networking with NGOs and other civic groups. Cooperation on the municipal level shows that local social housing policies can be implemented without an overarching national policy. However, such policy is still required to guarantee basic housing rights for all citizens.

Other success factors include

  • Political will: the project was identified as a priority of the Minister (Social Housing Concept 2015-2025)
  • Ownership: Ministry level, Liaison Centre, municipalities
  • Transnational nature: learning from other countries, then designing its own model (Pilots)
  • Long-term vision: Establishment of a Liaison Centre which is available beyond the implementation period
  • Multi-level governance: Liaison Centre exchanges not only with municipalities but also with NGOs and other key players that feed back.
  • Transparency: The LC shares information with the general public and keep them up to date with latest development.

Scale

national

More information

The Statutory City of Ostrava sets up and oversees the social housing system within a pilot project in cooperation with Social Housing Support project. Ostrava’s project focuses on housing people and families in need and providing them with social work. One of the supported families is a married couple with two children. In the past, the household lived in an unsatisfactory environment of a high-capacity commercial lodging-house, in a small space with too many people, bad sanitary conditions and high costs of living.

Several months after moving into the social housing apartment, the tenant comments the changes: “The project has helped us get a better living, in a better location, in a nicer and more spacious flat. Friends asked us in the past where we lived. When we told them our address l, they were worried and did not want to visit us. Now, when we can say that we live in a flat, they smile and praise our large apartment with such a low rent. One of the huge benefits is that we did not have to pay any deposit, because we would not have had enough money. Compared with living in the hostel, where four of us lived in one small room, we now have enough space and the costs of living have gone down by about a half. The behaviour of my sons has also improved because they have their own rooms and they are quieter, while at the hostel there was constant noise in the corridor, with many children screaming. At the hostel we could not let the children out without supervision, because the kids kept fighting and behaved badly, doing what they wanted. Now we can let them play outside the house on a nearby refurbished playground, where we can see them.”

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