Housing First in Germany has a relatively recent history, with the approach gaining recognition and implementation in the country in the 2000s. The concept of Housing First was introduced in Germany as a response to the increasing homelessness and challenges faced by individuals with complex needs. The first implementations showed positive results and nowadays Housing First has become an integral part of Germany’s efforts to address homelessness
Initially, Housing First programs in Germany were influenced by successful models in other countries, particularly the United States and Canada. The approach was seen as a departure from traditional homelessness interventions that focused on temporary shelters or transitional housing.
Over time, Housing First has gained support from various stakeholders, including government agencies, non-profit organisations, and social housing providers in Germany. The approach has been implemented in different cities across the country, with a focus on providing long-term housing solutions and individualised support services to help individuals maintain housing stability.
Examples of successful implementations around Germany can be found in Berlin, Cologne, Munich and Hamburg but the approach is being adopted and adapted in various other cities and regions across the country as well.
The experience with Housing First in Germany has shown positive outcomes, including increased housing retention rates, improved mental health, reduced substance abuse, and a decrease in the use of emergency services. As a result, Housing First has become an integral part of Germany’s efforts to address homelessness, with ongoing efforts to expand and refine the approach to effectively support individuals experiencing homelessness and complex needs.
Recently, in 2023, the umbrella organisation ‘Housing First Germany’ has been founded bringing together Housing First organisations across the country. The BAG W (Federal Working Group for Homeless Aid) started a project group in 2022 to discuss the implementation of Housing First in Germany.
Our partners in Germany
Housing First Köln (Cologne)
Housing First Köln (Cologne) is an initiative of the non-profit organization “Vringstreff e.V.”. Vringstreff is a specialized counseling center and drop-in center for homeless people in Cologne, which has been offering counseling and other assistance to people affected by poverty and homelessness since 1996. In 2020, Vringstreff founded the first Housing First project in Cologne. In the meantime, the project is also co-financed by the city of Cologne. In the Housing First Cologne team, social workers, psychologists and housing specialists work together to give homeless people the opportunity to move directly from the streets into their own apartment with their own lease. In accordance with their own wishes, we offer services and support that is closely aligned with the core principles of Housing First. Vringstreff is a co-founder and board member of the federal association Housing First (“Bundesverband Housing First”).
Housing First für Frauen / Housing First for Women
The Sozialdienst katholischer Frauen e.V. Berlin is an independent local women’s organisation of Caritas. It dedicates itself to the support for women and families, to child support and the support of endangered people. Counselling services are being offered, as well as facilities for child and youth support and integration aid for people with disabilities. Our work is based on the interaction of voluntary and professional staff. A resource-oriented approach, ‘helping to help oneself’, is the basis of all support offered. In the field of homelessness services we provide support for homeless women. Our goal is to support homeless women to work towards a self-determined and resource-oriented life – Empowerment! Through our Housing First for Women services, homeless women receive a chance to reintegrate into society. Each woman chooses what to accomplish and what scale of support they draw from the project, striving to regain self-determination and empowerment. We are committed to accompanying each woman’s process!
Housing First Berlin
Housing First Berlin (HFB) is a partnership project of the non-profit organizations Neue Chance gGmbH and Berliner Stadtmission. It has been financed as a model project by the social department of the city of Berlin since 2018. It curently counts eight staff members, with different qualifications, and around 40 participants housed in their own flats. HFB is expecting a significant expansion of the project starting in 2022. Neue Chance gGmbH was founded in May 2010 by the Diakonisches Werk Berlin-Brandenburg-Schlesische Oberlausitz e.V., and has been a subsidiary of GEBEWO – Social Services – Berlin gGmbH since October 2010. Neue Chance provides different social services for adults, young people and families in the legal areas of SGB VIII and SGB XII – from shelters and low threshold counseling to assisted living – with approximately 400 flats. Their motto is: “We give always everything to give everybody a new chance.” The Berliner Stadtmission is part of the Evangelical Church Berlin-Brandenburg-Schlesische Oberlausitz (EKBO). Under the motto “Seek the best for the city and pray to the Lord for it” (Jeremiah 29: 7), it has been involved in various ways for people in need since its foundation in 1877. Various low-threshold offers of cold help are just as much a focus of their work as the service types according to §§ 67, 68 SGB XII, which were developed by the Stadtmission about 30 years ago.
Dagmara is a psychologist and has been working with people with mental illness for more than 10 years at low thresholds, with a focus on recovery and empowerment. In 2019, she started offering psychological support to homeless people at Berlin Zoo Station and subsequently at Housing First Berlin. Her focus is on the link to the health care system and the implementation of trauma-sensitive work in a multi-professional team. As a Housing First trainer, Dagmara shares her expertise on recovery and trauma.