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Housing First

Researchers at the School of Social Work are working to change the direction of Swedish policies to help the homeless. The objective is to get away from the system of moving individuals through different levels of housing, which most Swedish municipalities use today. It is argued that the system, which means that the homeless must qualify to live independently by climbing upward in the housing hierarchy - from temporary shelters and various short-term accommodations before gaining access to a longterm housing -  hinders rather than help the homeless.

The method that the School of Social Work in Lund advocates entails first having a home of their own, and then implementing massive relief efforts. The approach is called "Housing First" and is based on the idea that housing is a basic security that the homeless need to be able to deal with their problems. It has been tested in other countries, including the US, Germany and Finland. The results have been good in the trials evaluated in New York and Hanover - about 90 percent of those who received a housing coupled with intensive rehabilitation have managed to retain their contracts.

But to change the current homelessness policy requires broad cooperation between researchers, politicians, various government agencies, industry, professional associations, mortgage companies and users. The purpose of cooperating is:

  •      To strengthen the right an own home for the homeless
  •      To forge a consensus on the importance of having a home
  •      To see homelessness as a complex problem that requires differentiated measures, based on methods that are supported by research and proven practice
  •      To provide a coordinated and personalized support through voluntary forms to those who have a home of their own
  •      Working with user participation

The following is required, in order to overcome the problem :

  •      Stopping the influx of homelessness
  •      Mobilising support and for a remain living information to deal with many of the myths that abound
  •      Working so the homeless can receive and retain housing
  •      Working to maintain permanent residencies.
  •      To strive to repace shelters and short-term solutions with proper housing.

In the autumn of 2009, Lund University held an initial conference to introduce the method and in March 2012 the Vice-Chancellor of  Lund University Rector hosted a follow-up conference to about the pilot scheme. Today, several Swedish municipalities, including Orebro, Gothenburg and Malmo, have implemented Housing First model in their work to combat homelessness.