Over the 16 & 17th of June, Eurodiaconia members came together for our Extreme Destitution Network Meeting hosted by the Swedish Association of City Missions, in Stockholm, Sweden. Within these two days our members shared their approaches to combatting homelessness through preventative, integrated and holistic interventions as well as housing-led and Housing First solutions.

The meeting began with an introduction by Jonas Wihlstrand, Secretary General of the Swedish Association of City Missions, including an overview of their projects on access to housing. This was complemented by our guest speaker, Mr. Martin Grander, Associate Senior Lecturer of Malmö University. He discussed the shortfalls of the Swedish model, which pushes many low-income households into homelessness due to restrictive selectivity and unaffordable housing. To counter this, he pointed to innovative responses such as Housing First Solutions.

Later, Eurodiaconia presented current challenges as well as policy developments at the European level. One development shared was Eurodiaconia’s official acceptance onto the European Platform for Combatting Homelessness To provide more details, Mr. Kjell Larsson, President of FEANTSA, outlined the Platform’s challenges and potentials as it aims to provide a space for mutual learning and collaboration to eradicate homelessness in the EU by 2030.

In the afternoon, some members shared projects highlighting the role of holistic, person-centered, integrated services in preventing and tackling homelessness. This was followed by a study visit in which members learned about projects implemented by the Stockholm City Missions. The projects presented included Housing First initiatives as well as programs addressing the needs of refugee, undocumented and EU mobile populations.

The second day kicked off with a presentation by Ms. Karolina Skog, expert on housing and city development, on the political landscape behind eradicating homelessness in Sweden and the role of civil society organizations. After, some members presented their experiences with Housing First solutions as a model that ensures autonomy, dignity and choice. The final session included the policy development workshop in which members collaborated to identify key concerns regarding homelessness and recommendations for moving forward.

Throughout this event members detailed reports of growing numbers of people experiencing homelessness across Europe, with groups such as migrants, women or people with mental health problems being particularly affected. Due to this reality, Eurodiaconia calls on our members to join our experts’ group on homelessness. The aim of this group is to promote the exchange of best practices among our members, engage in thematic discussions around homelessness and mutually support our advocacy efforts.

If you want to join Eurodiaconia’s expert group on homelessness, please contact our Policy Officer Magdalena.Bordagorry@eurodiaconia.org