Mattia Mansueto (Kuleuven)
Topic: Housing First for Youth as an opportunity for social justice among young people
This presentation is based on an ongoing research project about the Housing First for Youth model (HF4Y), a specific housing project for young persons in a homeless situation. This service model has gradually spread in Europe and is based on the idea of immediate access for young people to stable and affordable housing without preconditions, rather than the end goal of a rehabilitation process. Social workers play an important role in these interventions, since they support these youngsters, to develop the best possible individual pathway which recognises and respects their needs, future goals, and dreams, embedded in principles of social justice.
The aim of the study, using qualitative interviews (n=23) and a graphic mind map, is to compare HF4Y projects across thirteen European countries. More specifically, we focus on their social impact at the individual and community level and the role of the social worker.
The analysis of the data revealed divergence in the original model which can be explained by different welfare state models, forms of professional practice, and resources. The results indicate the way in which a coordinated system of access to services has been developed in the different European countries and what opportunities are available to improve the cooperation between housing, mental health, and youth homelessness sectors and other relevant partners. Data draw attention to the tension between the traditional staircase model and the Housing First model, and also the importance of the role of Social Workers in social support with new methodological approach.
The Housing First for youth projects adapt the original model to the local and national context, highlighting issues on housing availability and income resources for youngsters, social workers interventions based on client-driven approach, and the need for innovative policies for an inclusive and sustainable social and environmental change.