On the ground
Housing First Belgium is operational in offering rehousing and support in:
- Hasselt (with Saint-Trond and Genk)
Support teams have been deployed in these areas.
The teams respect the fundamental principles of the Housing First model.
Also, the minimum commonalities when implementing Housing First Belgium are:
- Multidisciplinary approach. In order to respond to the many and complex problems facing people who have lived on the streets, the teams come from a broad range of disciplines (educators, social assistants, psychologists, nursing staff, doctors, accommodation finder,…) or call in external resources via their preferred partners.
- Intensity. They are available as required and meet the tenant at least once a week.
- Separation housing - support. The tenant agrees to be supported by the team but the rental contract takes precedence. Consequently, any support-related issues should have no bearing over whether or not the tenant remains in the accommodation. Ideally, the support team does not manage relations with the lessor. In the majority of the teams, the accommodation finder is the mediator between the lessor and the lessee.
- Reinsertion. Support from HF is aimed at reinsertion and not recovery. Therefore, for example, there are no obligations relating to self-care or to cease the consumption of products. The team is on hand to raise awareness with individuals about any problems they have experienced, stability (a minima) and well-being.
- Risk reduction. There are no obligations to cease consumption but rather an invitation not to aggravate the situation by avoiding risks and changing behaviour.
- Focus on the individual. The tenant is at the heart of their own insertion process. They are the ones who decide what the priorities will be and the areas in which they feel they would benefit from support.
- Highly vulnerable target group. The persons being rehoused come from the streets, they may be vulnerable in many aspects of their lives (physical/mental health and/or addiction) and many have been homeless for prolonged periods of time. These people need support in their homes (if not, other housing projects may be suggested to them which have less intensive levels of support than Housing First, or they may prefer no support at all).
- Permanent housing. This is not about adding an additional step to the insertion process. Housing First brings about basic minimum stability and security through sustainable housing. The rental contract must therefore take the traditional form, with no additional clauses than could otherwise be expected by any other tenant. That being said, the acute housing shortage in Belgium has sometimes meant that teams have had to negotiate specific contracts (especially given the reticence expressed by some landlords in particular).
- Scattered housing. The aim is not to create a ghetto of formerly homeless people. The aim is to achieve social diversity in the cities.