Always with dignity

25 February 2020

Poznan is taking a stance against homelessness.

“We do a lot for homeless people,” comments Jacek Jaśkowiak, the mayor of Poznan.

This includes providing “1,500 meals a day we give to our homeless and poor people” and according to the mayor, its guided by a philosophy that “the city should be open for everyone.”

The city even has “a special ambulance,” says the mayor, “because not everybody has insurance and they still need treatment, and dignity.”

This idea of dignity and fairness winds its way through the city’s housing policy. For instance, to ensure fairness in the city’s selection criteria for deciding who is able to receive support through social housing. A ‘score qualification system’ awards points to people based on different social criteria, by promoting those who are most in need such as the already homeless or the disabled.

And, in a separate conversation I had with a representative of the city’s office of housing affairs, I learned of two major innovative housing programmes the city has developed based on this approach.

The social housing programme offers shared social housing to socially vulnerable people, who are able to rent private rooms with shared common areas that include the kitchen and bathrooms. The idea is that participants in these units come together with a ‘dwelling operator’ to work through a process of social and economic rehabilitation towards a place where they are fully able to live independently. Currently, the city offers over 40 such units, where residents typically stay for a period of between six and 12 months before being able to move on.

The second programme is Poznan’s ‘studio flats for seniors’, which is helping senior citizens improve their living conditions. Nine studio flats, each equipped with a kitchenette and a bathroom, nonetheless share a communal area. The idea is to ensure these senior citizens have adequate access to all the social care services they need, which is just as well, because as Mayor Jaśkowiak comments, “in Poznan we have 540,000 people and 120,000 of them are senior citizens.”

The city is dedicating significant resources to ensuring all residents have access to adequate social housing. In order to increase its current housing stock, for example, the municipality has even agreed a loan from the European Investment Bank to build 1,340 new premises.

Last Autumn, Poznan also welcomed other cities, through its action in EUROCITIES working group on homelessness, to learn from its lead and share best practice. Another example of how Poznan is branching out is its pledge to the political initiative ‘Inclusive cities for all’, which is showcasing how cities are taking concrete actions to improve the social rights of citizens.

With “the lowest unemployment rate in Poland”, at just 1.4%, according to Mayor Jaśkowiak, the city obviously feels confident about sharing its initiatives with others.

As the mayor says, “the city should be for everyone.”

Find out how in the video:


Alex Godson Eurocities Writer