We have successfully finished our HomeLab project, and the encompassing overview on the project’s activities and achievements is here. The report (available here) gives a summary of the main achievements of the project’s three years, describes its milestones reached, and highlights its most important policy learnings. The report also includes a detailed description of what happened in each pilot, an evaluation of the quantitative survey results and an analysis of sustainability options for each pilot site. Using the experience of the pilots, the report also makes recommendations to promote inclusive and flexible housing and employment policies and integrated service delivery models in the CEE region and promotes the mainstreaming of the Social Rental Enterprise model developed by the project.
HomeLab project has come to an end in September 2019. The three year project combined integrated support services for vulnerable groups with the analysis and evaluation of innovative service provision. The project’s closing conference was organised in Budapest by consortium coordinator Metropolitan Research Institute in 26-27 September. Presenters and participants gathered from the Visegrad countries, the European Commission, and beyond.
On the conference, the project coordinators and the chief methodology expert of Budapest Institute presented the conceptual and methodological underpinning of the project, while the representatives of pilot implementer NGOs reflected on the activities, challenges, and the various service provision models they established over the past years. Thematic sessions addressed innovation in housing and employment, integrated social service provision, and the lessons learned for public policy on the local and national levels – and recommendations for the EU scale.
The detailed summary of the sessions, with the key lessons, recommendations summarized, and some additional photos was sent out in the project’s final Newsletter to key dissemination partners, among them members of HomeLab’s Advisory Board. The Newsletter is also available for the general public – click here to download.
As the end of HomeLab draws near, National Policy Workshops were organised in the four Visegrad countries to disseminate results, and share policy challenges and proposals with key actors and decision makers. The workshops organised in June 2019 in Bratislava, Budapest, Prague, and Warsaw attracted 50-100 participants each, including ministry officials and other public sector representatives from local and national scales. Pilot implementers involved key project partners from the civil society and private sectors.
The workshops helped draw professional and media attention on the project, and on the issues it addresses. It also gave opportunity to present the multi-stakeholder networks that the complex integrated service provision pilots necessitated, involving private employers and public bodies, as well as NGOs and church based charity organisations across a territory. Presenters also called for policy changes. The four Visegrad countries – Czechia, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia – are all post-socialist EU member states, with some shared heritage, and post-transition welfare provision systems, in which numerous issues must be addressed. The workshops allowed to initiate discussion among national stakeholders, and foster the dialogue between national level decision makers on the one hand, and providers and other practitioners on the other.
Finally, the events served prepare for HomeLab’s closing conference, foreseen for late September 2019 in Budapest. On this event, refined and further elaborated recommendations and proposed policy modifications are planned to be presented before an international audience, among which EU representatives.
A summary of the four workshops was distributed among interested parties, especially the Advisory Board members of HomeLab, to support dissemination among professionals, practitioners, and decision makers. The Newsletter is also available for the general public – click here to download.
Daniel Bakeš presented HomeLab, and Romodrom’s pilot, on EURoma Network’s European Seminar, titled “Using ESI Funds to prodive adequate housing solutions for Roma families” on 20-21 November 2018 in Madrid, Spain.
Bakeš presented Romodrom’s effort in moving low income, marginalized families from substandard and extremely unfavourable housing conditions to decent quality, affordable rental homes in the framework of the Czech HomeLab pilot. He described the logic of integrated service provision to vulnerable clients, connecting housing services with individualized support in securing gainful employment, and providing intensive social work to help the sustainable social integration of the excluded families.
The two-day seminar was combined with a Network Management Committee meeting. It gathered EURoma Network partners, among which public authorities managing ESI Funds (Managing Athorities, Intermediary Bodies and other relevant actors), representatives of National Roma contact Points from ten EU countries, as well as other relevant bodies at European and national level.
Besides Bakeš, Jan Milota of the Czech Roma advocacy NGO I.Q. Roma servis also presented on a flagship Housing First project, benefitting both Roma and non-Roma families in Brno, in cooperation with the city municipality. Katalin Utasi, of the Pécs branch of Hungarian Maltese Charity Service (a counterpart of Veszprém HCSOM in HomeLab) addressed the challenges of a Roma integration project in Pécs, Hungary, describing the importance of soft components.
On 8 October 2018, Attila Lendvai-Frikkel, HomeLab coordinator for the Veszprém, Hungary pilot project presented the pilot’s experimental scheme for the housing and labour reintegration of former detainees in the Ministry of Interior in Budapest.
The Veszprém branch of Hungarian Charity Service of the Order of Malta (HCSOM) supports the social, housing, and labour market integration of five vulnerable target groups, one of which is former detainees. The period immediately after release from a penitentiary institution is very challenging and risk laden for former inmates. Even though the pertaining legislation (para. 2(a) of Act. CCXL of 2013) stipulates that penitentiary institutions must also support former inmates in social reintegration and adopting a law abiding way of life, limited capacity and resources make full de facto compliance with this requirement extremely complicated. “The former detainee is released at six in the morning. (S)he can then go to the reintegration support centre starting 9 in the morning – but who is going to pick them up at the prison? How will they spend their time before and after the reintegration day centre is open?”, asks Lendvai-Frikkel. In practice, it is himself who picks up the newly released who are open to cooperation; and HCSOM strives to offer them support and consultation throughout their reintegration process.
The Veszprém County detention facility has been well aware of the challenges the newly released face, as well as of their own limited capacities, and the subsequent low effectiveness of existing reintegration support measures. HCSOM has been cooperating with the county detention facility for years, where Lendvai-Frikkel worked together with detainees as well as with the reintegration officer to begin planning life after prison well before a person leaves penitentiary.
Starting early 2018, a Working Group was set up with Lendvai-Frikkel representing social provision and support through HCSOM, which also includes the lead security officer, the lead reintegration officer, the prison chaplain, the inmate psychologist, the probation officer of the County Penitentiary. The HomeLab pilot coordinator reported that in his impression, this formalized cooperation elevates their work to a new and very promising level, establishing long-term, calculable and more systematic cooperation, which began in the framework of HomeLab, as the program provided accommodation and employment services integrated with social work.
On 8 October, Lendvai-Frikkel, HomeLab coordinator on behalf of HCSOM, presented this coordinated approach at the Ministry oft he Interior together with leutenant-colonel Margit Gyarmati, the lead reintegration officer of Veszprém County Prison. The two have shared information on the key conditions of, and challenges to, social reintegration. They emphasized the possibilities of the multi-faceted integrated services provided through HomeLab in bridging many challenging personal and institutional factors, as well as the multi-stakeholder cooperation permitted by the Working Group, and the subsequent “expansion of competency limits”. Lendvai-Frikkel also emphasized HCSOM’s ambition to expand support and prevention services for female former detainees, who face increased risks of stigmatisation and homelessness even within this overall vulnerable target group.
Pictured: Attile Lendvai-Frikkel presents HomeLab project at the Ministry of Interior
On Friday, 21 September HomeLab project was presented at FEANTSA’s 13th Research Conference in Budapest, titled “Social and Economic Integration of Homeless Persons”. The event of FEANTSA – the European Federation of National Organisations Working with the Homeless – was hosted by the Central European University.
On Seminar 3, “Integrated Housing and Labour Market Service Delivery in CEE”, project coordinators Hanna Szemző and Eszter Somogyi of MRI presented the main elements of the Social Rental Enterprise model, and discussed how the HomeLab pilots can contribute to the national policy making processes. Márton Csillag, methodology expert of Budapest Institute, gave an overview of project progress and challenges, and presented the evaluation strategy applied in HomeLab, adjusted to the complex target group.
Finally, the leaders of the individual pilot projects presented their greatest achievements and challenges in a Panel Discussion. Implementers also set forth their plans and experiments aiming to ensure long-term sustainability of project results and key achievements. Magda Ruszkowska‐Cieślak represented Habitat for Humanity Warsaw (Poland); Martin Vavrinčík discussed People In Need’s project implementation in Slovakia, Nikola Taragoš introduced Romodrom’s progress over three Czech localities; Vera Kovács presented the case of From Street to Home Association, active in Budapest, Hungary; and László Moravcsik discussed the Veszprém (Hungary) case where the implementer is the Hungarian Charity Service of the Order of Malta.