Homelessness and access to housing, the experience of Fundació Mambré
In Catalonia, it is estimated that 18,000 people are in a situation of homelessness, in its most serious conditions: homeless, in emergency accommodation and in hostels and temporary accommodation for homeless people (INSOCAT, ECAS, 2022). Homelessness is a phenomenon with multiple causes: the economic situation and the real estate market, the rigidity of social services and institutional processes, migration, discrimination, and personal and relational causes such as the lack of a social network, family breakdowns, health problems, dependency or age, among others.
As ECAS's INSOCAT 14 report highlights, "housing, despite being a basic right, has today become a structural problem and one of the main generators of social exclusion".
The solution requires the combination of different levels of response with two foundations: the guarantee of the right to decent housing and the person at the center of social action. For this reason, the expansion of the public affordable and social housing stock with the appropriate budget allocation must be the priority.
The experience of the Mambré Foundation, a pioneer in the management of housing for homeless people, is an experience of network, partnership and flexibility that makes possible the provision of decent housing and social support with the optimization of economic resources available Mambré offers housing with various formulas according to people's needs and the intervention methods that are prioritized in each case or program. The possibility of exercising the assessment and withdrawal for the purchase of homes with subsidized financing from the Generalitat is an opportunity to expand the stock available.
Homelessness support methodologies have traditionally been based on the ladder model, in which the person overcomes a series of "steps" related to job placement, addiction detoxification, mental health treatments, as the case may be, until achieving a sufficient degree of autonomy and access to a shared home. Along this path, the accommodation resources are diverse and temporary: pensions, hostels, residential accommodation, up to inclusive flats. The leadership of the work plan to achieve this autonomy rests with the professionals of the accommodation or institution where the person is linked. This model, however, has not been effective in many cases, especially the most chronic in street situations where relapses can be frequent and abandonment of the process also means the loss of housing or accommodation.
In recent years, a new model known as "Housing First" has spread, as a new paradigm of social action that separates housing from treatment or social support, so that in the first place a decent home is offered as a resource not conditional on treatment follow-up and not as an end. The housing is usually individual and with a vocation of permanence. From the housing, the accompaniment puts the person at the center, as a subject with full rights and respecting their own decisions, and the permanence in the housing is not conditioned on the fulfillment of a work plan. One of the main limitations to extending the model in Catalonia is the lack of sheltered and social housing that ensures permanence and the possibility for the person to directly maintain the home ownership agreement. The alternatives for attracting housing through the private market make the programs more expensive and make their sustainability more difficult.
Beyond these two models, Mambré and the social entities with which we collaborate implement new programs that combine the experience of the two models described and networking with the desire to offer possibilities of access to social housing, stable and secure. In this sense, the Cohabitation program offers a rental contract in shared housing with a vocation of permanence at a price proportional to income to people who have recovered their full autonomy, but with precarious incomes that prevent their direct access to the private market housing
The programs launched more recently together with Sant Joan de Déu Social Services, Caritas Barcelona and Formació i Treball, such as Insula and Vesta - the latter with the Consorci del Besòs and the Councils that make it up - establish contractual separation, that is to say, the person or family served formalizes a housing rental contract with Mambré and a social support contract with Sant Joan de Déu, an entity that will carry out intensive social support for a certain period of time. The person's contribution to the rent will be proportional to their income. The end of social support does not imply that the person has to leave the home if they can support it independently.
In short, the latest initiatives seek to adapt the housing resource to the person.
Maira Costa Casas