EUROCITIES is organising a study visit to Toulouse on 9-10 April to support policy transfer of promising city measures for Roma access to adequate housing.
Lack of access to decent housing hinders Roma inclusion
Access to housing is a considerable challenge for a big share of Roma living in cities. According to the EUROCITIES mapping of Roma inclusion in cities in 2017, the housing situation of Roma is far worse than that of the general population in cities, with Roma families often living in precarious conditions in overcrowded, poor quality housing. This is all the more problematic given that having permanent, decent accommodation is an essential pre-requisite to finding employment, getting children to attend school regularly and having access to basic services, which are all key for social inclusion and integration.
The main reasons why housing is a challenge for many Roma families are:
- Discrimination and anti-gypsyism
- Economic reasons – lack of means due to unemployment
- Housing market – lack of affordable housing in cities
- Language barrier
Housing and assistance for the homeless is principle 19 of the EU Pillar of Social Rights. Cities are committed to deliver on the Pillar and make social rights accessible by all people, hence improving local policies for housing inclusion of Roma is a key milestone to achieve.
Learning from Toulouse
EUROCITIES is organising a study visit to Toulouse to learn in practice from the city's measures for housing inclusion of Roma people. The aim is to build capacity of the city experts part of the WG Roma inclusion to learn, transfer and possibly replicate some of the inspiring practices from Toulouse to support Roma to access adequate housing while adapting to the specific local conditions and target groups in their cities. The ultimate goal is to strengthen the capacity of cities to develop and implement urban solutions for Roma inclusion.
Why Toulouse as role model? A recent report by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) entitled 'No One Left Behind' analysed on the ground the situation of Roma living in slums in France. It found 570 slums inhabited by 16,000 people, most of whom are Roma from Romania and Bulgaria. While the report concluded that greater efforts are needed in France to change the practice of forced evictions into sustainable exit from slums, it also identified some good practices, such as the innovative approach in Toulouse. Toulouse is implementing an integrated plan to eliminate slums through support by social workers and social services to help Roma move from camps into adequate housing, be it social housing or regular, mainstream housing. Moreover, Toulouse is one of the cities in France to pilot the Housing First model, including for Roma beneficiaries.
Policy transfer of promising practices from Toulouse to other cities
The two-day study visit will give a unique opportunity to participating cities to:
- learn from Toulouse's innovative practices to support Roma to move from camps into adequate housing
- map innovative approaches to housing inclusion of Roma across cities in Europe
- develop guidelines for cities on how to develop integrated plans for a sustainable exit from camps into adequate housing
- develop actions for policy transfer of housing inclusion initiatives to other cities
- learn how to use ESF for Roma inclusion measures
- analyse policy developments on Roma inclusion from European Semester country reports
Five 'transfer' cities will be selected upon a call to receive support from EUROCITIES to develop actions based on learning from Toulouse's model.
The policy transfer is mainly intended for policy-makers and practitioners from cities members of WG Roma inclusion, but representatives from French authorities and EU institutions (European Commission, Council of Europe, Fundamental Rights Agency, OHCHR) as well as Roma civil society are strongly welcome to join the study visit.
City experts part of the EUROCITIES WG Homelessness will also be invited to join this study visit to contribute with their expertise so as to advance a more integrated way of working between the two working groups to address the cross-cuttting challenge of homelessness of Roma people.
The study visit will be held back-to-back to the meeting of WG Migration & Integration and some sessions will be common to encourage sharing of ideas and knowledge.
Expected outcomes and impact
The peer-learning activity will result in:
- a set of guidelines for cities on how to develop integrated plans for a sustainable exit from camps into adequate housing
- action plans for cities to transfer some of the lessons from Toulouse for housing inclusion of Roma
- 50 policy-makers and practitioners will improve know-how to use housing solutions to foster Roma inclusion at local level