Polytechnic University of Valencia Congress, CARPE Conference 2019: Horizon Europe and beyond

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Welcome in my backyard: how having good neighbours can help ending homelessness
Maarten Davelaar, Lia van Doorn, Aly gruppen, Jeroen Knevel

Last modified: 11-09-2019


In the Netherlands, the city of Utrecht is leading in providing adequate accommodation through mixed housing projects for ‘regular’ tenants and people previously living in homeless services or protected housing facilities. ‘New’ homeless persons also obtain the possibility for making a new start, instead of having to depend on shelters first. The concept of mixed housing, not to be confused with mixed income housing, relates in our definition to small and medium-sized (up to 500 residents) housing projects that are home to different groups of people who intentionally live next to each other, connect and engage in joint activities.

In this paper, we examine three projects, with mainly self-contained dwellings: ‘Groene Sticht’ (since 2003), a small neighbourhood with 69 regular tenants and home-owners, and 35 ex-homeless persons; ‘Parana’ (2014), a purpose build complex with 24 regular and 44 (ex-)homeless individuals/families; ‘Majella Wonen’ (2016), older basic, post-war dwellings with 39 regular tenants and 35 homeless persons/families. These price-winning projects, co-created by a homeless service, social integration services and a social housing provider are built on an innovative concept of social management, with a high level of self-organisation. All residents are fully eligible members of the residents-committees and take responsibility for activities such as festivities, gardening, and the selection of new tenants. If necessary, ex-homeless inhabitants receive individualised support.

We discuss structures and mechanisms that help homeless people feel at home amidst their (new) neighbours and foster their social integration. In addition, we identify several tensions that hamper integration and analyse the ways in which both residents and professionals try to tackle these obstacles.

We collected data (2016 -2018) through the participatory meetings of a Community of Practice on Mixed housing, the study of documents, in-depth interviews with inhabitants of the housing complexes, focus group-sessions with professionals and interviews with local stakeholders.

Based on this research we will apply for follow up funding. Through national funds and/or European funds.


Homelessness; mixed housing; adequate housing; community building; inclusive housing policies

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