EUROsociAL, programme financed by the European Commission, organized an international meeting to design assistance policies for homeless people in Latin America, while also assessing the European experience.
The activity, part of the social policy area, was organized by the partners of the EUROsociAL Programme managed by the FIIAPP: IILA, CIPPECand ADECRI. It was held in Bergamo, Italy from 22nd to 25th October and came about in response to a request by diverse Latin American countries (Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Paraguay and Uruguay) to explore in greater depth international experiences with the potential to improve public policies at the national level. To do this, a decision was made to hold this joint meeting with the participation of Latin American public servants attending the Annual FEANTSA Conference (European Federation of National Associations Working with the Homeless), an organization that unites over 300 association from all over Europe and holds this yearly information exchange on preventing and reducing homelessness.
The countries of Latin America have made significant progress in developing assistance policies for the homeless. While this progress varies from country to country, the regional trend is being consolidated in terms of a strong commitment by the State to the adoption of a more comprehensive approach that organizes these actions in conjunction with others in the area of housing, employment, health, etc. “Latin America is at the optimum moment for the issue of homelessness to have a specific place in the public agenda and the processes of building social protection systems”, in the words of Francesco Chiodi, del Italian-Latin American Institute (IILA), a EUROsociAL coordinating partner.
On the European side, the problem has taken on particular importance in recent years, due also to the crisis, and two predominant approaches can be observed in the area of public policies for this population: the “stepladder” approach and the “housing first” model. The two approaches were presented on the first day by Liz Gosme, Manager of European Public Policies of the FEANTSA.
Visits to services providing assistance to the homeless in Milan, affiliated with the ARCA Project, a non-profit organization responsible for providing temporary housing for homeless people under an agreement with the Milan City Hall, were also arranged.
Since 2013, the EUROsociAL Programmehas worked with various Latin American countries in their efforts to improve approaches and public policy instruments aimed at the homeless. This assistance has included arranging visits to observe diverse experiences in Europe and Latin America (England, Romania, Mexico, France, Finland and the European Union) for the purpose of extracting learning experiences in this area.