Impact Analysis of the "Wiener Wohnungslosenhilfe"
Impacts and requirements of the “Wiener Wohnungslosenhilfe”
The “Wiener Wohnungslosenhilfe” (WWH) is a service facility funded by the public hand which comprises a wide range of services for people who are affected by homelessness, houselessness or precarious housing conditions. In addition to the classic services, such as emergency sleeping facilities and assisted housing, it also includes counselling services, health services and much more. The NPO & SE Competence Center was commissioned by the Dachverband Wiener Sozialeinrichtungen (umbrella organisation of Viennese social institutions) to conduct an impact analysis of the WWH. The objectives of the study were to work out the needs in homeless assistance and impacts of the WWH, taking into account the changed framework conditions of recent years. For this purpose, a qualitative approach was chosen by means of semi-structured interviews and focus groups, in which representatives of the services of the homeless assistance, external stakeholders as well as persons affected participated.
Impact map - impacts and social added value of Wiener Wohnungslosenhilfe
The presentation of all impacts of the Wiener Wohnungslosenhilfe services identified in this study in the form of an impact map according to Grünhaus/Rauscher (2020) shows a colourful, impressive picture. The impact map shows that homeless assistance has a broad impact on society and produces a variety of impacts on many different stakeholders. The colourful lines, starting from the organisation WWH itself in the middle and its services strung around, lead to the diverse impacts on clients as well as stakeholders, i.e. other (operational) organisations, companies, institutions and authorities as well as the general population. The large number of lines alone shows the dense network of effects and the great influence of the WWH.
...read more about stakeholders and their impact
A closer look at the impact map shows that the WWH has a strong impact on its direct target group, the clients, and contributes to the human right to housing. For homeless people, the focus is on meeting basic needs and thus contributes to ensuring survival. People in inpatient housing services of the WWH benefit from a stabilisation of their living situation in many ways. This concerns the housing situation itself, mental and physical health as well as social contacts. People in mobile housing support benefit from a number of positive impacts related to access to their own flat. For people living in precarious housing conditions, the most effective services are those that provide postal and registration addresses, day centres that offer accommodation and health services.
The services provided by the WWH not only have an impact on the clients themselves, but also on many other organisations, companies, institutions and authorities in Vienna. If the Wiener Wohnungslosenhilfe did not exist, the many impacts identified in this study would be clearly visible in everyday life. Particularly relevant and visible would be an increased workload, with corresponding costs, for a number of stakeholders, such as the judiciary, hospitals, general practitioners, police, rescue services and public transport. Without adequate care in the existing services, many more people would have to spend the night on the streets and induce more calls for emergency services. In addition, there would be more health emergencies, which in turn would burden the health system and cause corresponding costs.
Such a situation would probably cause complaints to politicians and administrators, who in turn would quickly reach the limits of their possibilities for action. Without corresponding expertise from the currently existing offers, it would only be possible to react with security measures, which is usually cost-intensive. Related to this is the importance of disseminating information on the topic and building up the corresponding knowledge. However, the City of Vienna does not only benefit on this meta-level, but also much more concretely on the level of the authorities. For example, MA 11, the child and youth welfare department, has a relief in the search for housing and with regard to housing provision for families. This is accompanied by the possibility to concentrate on their own issues and to work more efficiently and effectively here.
Significant interactions of the 14 services of the WWH examined here are the possibility of reciprocal referral to other, partly more extensive services and the associated possibilities of creating perspectives for further steps in life. A well-functioning interaction of the services, with a corresponding flow of information, results in, among other things, increased know-how about certain particularly challenging groups, which can then be cared for or counseled more adequately.
In summary, it can be seen that WWH represents a very complex interplay of services, which on the one hand significantly increases the quality of life of the people concerned, but also of all citizens of Vienna. On the other hand, it creates significant relief and cost savings for a large number of external stakeholders.
Groups with demands of the Wiener Wohnungslosenhilfe
Homelessness occurs in many different forms. The "European Typology of Homelessness and Housing Exclusion” ETHOS defines these roughly and served as a starting point for the analysis. Despite all heterogeneity, however, all groups have one essential need: affordable, readily available housing.
More about demand groups
This applies to young homeless people who find themselves on the street or living in precarious housing situations, for example with friends. A problematic family background and an interrupted educational career make it difficult for them to take the step towards independence. Combined with an addiction and unstable relationships, this quickly leads to a lack of perspective in life. Longer and more intensive support is needed here in the transition to adult life. Mentally ill persons find themselves in acute homelessness and housing exclusion and actually need psychological or psychiatric support and corresponding resources in the support systems provided for this purpose. Elderly homeless people and those in need of care show a comparatively stable problem situations; their physical illnesses and often loneliness are the main challenge. Among women, hidden homelessness is an issue because potential homelessness is even more stigmatised and shameful than among men. Special low-threshold services and information for women seem to be necessary. EU citizens with no entitlement to benefits of the WWH are mostly poverty or labour migrants who have no entitlement to social benefits after losing a job in the informal economy and often live in homelessness or precarious housing conditions for a longer period of time due to a lack of alternatives. Increasingly, this also affects persons entitled to asylum and beneficiaries of subsidiary protection. The extent and the exact living conditions of precariously living people in Vienna are still little researched.
The aforementioned groups were particularly addressed in the surveys, but this should not obscure the view of the many people with heterogeneous problems who became homeless for various reasons and now live in the service facilitities of the WWH. Loss of job, death of relatives or separation from their partner are frequently mentioned reasons that lead to a loss of accommodation.
Recommendations for action
In summary, there are four generalised main recommendations. Firstly, there is a need for more prevention work; secondly, there is a need for more public relations work and lobbying to improve the framework conditions for people potentially affected by homelessness or housing exclusion. Thirdly, there needs to be an expansion of offers of decentralised small housing units or flats with long-term perspectives for the residents, and fourthly, more individual solutions should be permitted.
The impact of how well or poorly our society succeeds in integrating people in distress or problematic situations into society can be seen in homeless assistance. It shows how high the unemployment rate is, whether a minimum wage is enough to live on, how widespread mental or addictive disorders are in society, how disadvantaged groups such as people with a migration background are cared for, how expensive housing is, and so on. If the services offered by a service facility such as the Wiener Wohnungslosenhilfe can respond adequately to the respective challenges, both quantitatively and qualitatively, social security and social cohesion in the city will be strengthened. The impact map drawn up in the context of the study shows very clearly how valuable the WWH is not only for the clients concerned, but ultimately brings clear benefits to a large number of organisations, companies, institutions and authorities, especially in terms of relief and cost savings. The high quality of life in the city of Vienna is thus also significantly related to the activities of the services provided by the Wiener Wohnungslosenhilfe and their impact.