Networking and housing advocacy in the homelessness sector: a path towards social sustainability? A study of the Housing First Europe Hub


“This paper investigates the potential of pro-Housing First advocacy conducted by international and inter-organisational homelessness coalitions to realise social sustainability ambitions in the homelessness sector. In particular, it delves into the transformative potential of the Housing First Europe Hub – a coalition of governmental and non-governmental organisations in Europe – in changing the governance of homelessness and promoting the Housing First model as a socially sustainable approach to (re-)house homeless individuals.

In doing so, the paper seeks to answer the following two research questions:

(1) How do international and inter-organisational homelessness coalitions (such as the Hub) improve social sustainability in homelessness systems by advocating for long-term housing solutions for the homeless?

(2) Which internal and external governance arrangements do they produce, and to what extent do these novel arrangements realise social sustainability ambitions in the homelessness sector?

Informed by theories of social sustainability, social innovation, and bottom-linked governance, and grounded on empirical evidence collected during an eight-week ethnographic study of the Housing First Europe Hub, the paper studies social sustainability through the lens of (the politics of) homelessness. It concludes that international and interorganisational homelessness coalitions foster social sustainability through the promotion of housing needs satisfaction and the formation of new bottomlinked governance structures, especially in the (local, regional, national) contexts where Hub members are based. Albeit these novel governance structures remain highly susceptible to political opportunities and the will of influential decision- and policy-makers, they enhance democratisation and participation in decision-making and promote more socially sustainable responses to homelessness.”

This paper was written by Matilde Revelli, a former staff member at the Housing First Europe Hub, and originally published by the European Observatory on Homelessness, the home of research on homelessness in Europe, hosted by Hub Partner, FEANTSA, and features in the European Journal of Homelessness Volume 16, Issue 2 (July 2022).

Read or download the research paper here.


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