Home Politics The European Union's commitment to more effective policies against homelessness

The European Union's commitment to more effective policies against homelessness

The European Union's commitment to more effective policies against homelessness

Below I would like to present the description of the European Consensus Conference on Homelesness and the main speakers' biographies:


A European Consensus Conference on Homelessness will take place on the 9th and 10th of December in Brussels. This innovative initiative is organised under the Belgian Presidency in cooperation with the European Commission, FEANTSA (the European Federation of National Organisations Working with the Homelessness) and with the support of the French government. The aim of the event is to build a consensus on the main elements of an EU strategy to tackle homelessness.
Tackling homelessness, a priority of the European Union
Homelessness is one of the worst types of deprivation. It severely affects the dignity of its victims. That is why it has been a priority of the Belgian Presidency of the EU as well as of the European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion.
Earlier this year, the European Commission and Member States assessed the effectiveness of national homelessness and housing exclusion strategies. After the unprecedented adoption by the European Council, as part of the Europe 2020 strategy,  of a quantified target for reducing poverty and exclusion in the European Union, the European Commission is about to adopt a European Platform against Poverty to support achievement of this target.
Six fundamental issues for improving homelessness strategies in the Member States
The European Consensus Conference on Homelessness will focus on six fundamental issues which are key to tackle homelessness in the European Union: What does homelessness mean?
‘Ending Homelessness’: A realistic goal? Are Housing led policy approaches the most effective methods of preventing and tackling homelessness? How can meaningful participation of homeless people in the development of homelessness policies be assured? To what extent should people be able to access homeless services irrespective of their legal status and citizenship? What should be the elements of an EU strategy on homelessness?
An innovative methodology to build consensus among actors
To facilitate policy progress, the European discussions will be organised as a 'consensus conference' for the first time in the area of social policy. A high-level jury will draw conclusions on the six key issues after a public hearing of experts. Also, the results of a transnational consultation of homeless people (organised by The Front Commun des SDF (a national platform of homeless and formerly homeless people in Belgium) and lessons from research will be presented. 400 participants from all Member States, among others public authorities, social service providers, NGOs will attend.
The jury will consist of seven experts in the social domain who are independent from the homeless sector and have recognised authority on social issues. Among these: Frank Vandenbroucke, Member of the Belgian Senate, and Álvaro Gil-Robles, Former Commissioner for Human Rights at the Council of Europe, who will act respectively as President and Vice-President of the jury.


  Julien Van Geertsom
Julien Van Geertsom was born on the 17th of January 1953. He holds a masters degree in psychological and educational sciences. Since 2003 he has been chairman of the management committee of the Belgian Federal Public Planning Service for Social Integration, which aims to guarantee a dignified existence to all persons who do not qualify for social security and who live in poverty. The service is responsible for the implementation of the General Report on Poverty and for the set-up and follow-up of the National Social Inclusion Program, which is coordinated by the European Commission. Prior to this, he was adjunct-interregional secretary of the General Belgian Trade Union, responsible for labour market policy, diversity and target groups (1989-2002), Administrator-general of the Overseas Social Security Office (2002-2003), and president of the bpost literacy fund.

  Philippe Courard
Philippe Courard is the Belgian State Secretary for Social Integration and the Fight against Poverty, adjunct to the Minister of Social Affairs and Public Health. He was born on the 2nd September 1966, and has been a member of the Socialist Party since 1984. He is Municipal Councillor (1988-) and Mayor “en titre” of the Municipality of Hotton (1994-), although he is currently absent form this position due to ministerial duties. He was formerly Minister of Employment and Training (2003-2004) and Minister of the Interior and Civil Service (2004-2009) of the Walloon Region.   

  László Andor
László Andor was born on the 3 June 1966, in Zalaegerszeg, Hungary. Since 10 February, 2010 he has been Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion. He is an economist; holding a Ph.D in economics and being Associate professor at the Economics Department at the Corvinus University of Budapest (currently on unpaid leave).  Since 2005 he has been a member of the board of directors of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) in London, where he represents Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Croatia.
Philippe de Craene
Philippe De Craene is 62 years old. He has been homeless for long periods of his life. For seven years he has been active as an unpaid volunteer, with Antwerp based Daklozen Aktie Kommitee (Homeless Action Committee), commonly known as DAK. He gives social and legal counseling, coordinates projects relating to food, clothing, children and culture, and organizes campaigns and actions relating to fundamental social and human rights. With DAK he represents homeless people at communal and regional level. At federal and European level, he represents homeless people under the umbrella of the Front Commun des SDF (United Front of Homeless People). This is a national network, comprising individuals and organizations of homeless people from Belgium’s three regions. He has become an expert in his own right on homeless matters, and is consulted regularly in this capacity by public authorities as well as by private organizations

  Eoin O’Sullivan
Dr. Eoin O’Sullivan is Senior Lecturer in Social Policy in the School of Social Work and Social Policy, Trinity College, Dublin and Fellow of Trinity College. He is a member of the European Observatory on Homelessness and lead editor of the European Journal of Homelessness.
 Bill Edgar
Bill Edgar is Director of European Housing Research Ltd and an honorary research fellow at the University of Dundee. He was the research coordinator of FEANTSA’s European Observatory on Homelessness from 1998 to 2008.During this time he developed ETHOS – a typology of homelessness and housing exclusion – adopted widely in Europe and recently as far afield as New Zealand. Other publications include Women and Homelessness, Access to Housing and Immigration and Homelessness in Europe. He has co-ordinated a number of EU funded projects including MPHASIS – Mutual Progress on Homelessness Through Advancing and Strengthening Information Systems.

  Primož Časl
Primož Časl was born in the early 1970s in a small coastal town in Slovenia. He grew up as one of “Titos pioneers” (the last generation swearing loyalty to Tito). In 1987, aged fifteen he went to high school in   Ljubljana. After this, he began studies in Cultural Anthropology at the University of Ljubljana. He did not complete the course and after losing his student's status in 1998 he became homeless.  Primož is currently involved with the Slovenian organisation Kings of the Street. He restarted his studies in 2009 and is finishing his degree in anthropology. He has chosen marginalized social groups (including homeless people, disabled people, gender issues, underground subcultures like squatters) as his research field, and uses “engaged anthropology”, meaning participant observation with a purpose of social change. He will graduate in 2011 and hopes to participate in the development of strategies for solving important problems in contemporary society.

  Stefania Parigi
Since May 2002 Stefania Parigi has been Director General of Samusocial Paris. Samusocial is a key actor in the fight against extreme exclusion. It was created in 1993 by Dr. Xavier Emmanuelli, who is the President of the organisation. It has about 650 employees. The organisation develops, manages and organizes various missions and homeless services within Paris. Its activities include 20 mobile night outreach teams, a range of accommodation centres, a specialized mobile psychiatry team, a day centre and a tuberculosis outreach team. The Samusocial also coordinates an observatory on extreme exclusion and manages the social emergency number "115". 

Ms Parigi is a founding member of the bureau of Samusocial International, and the organisations Traces de Pas and SOLIPAM (Solidarité Paris Maman). She is also a Member of the High Committee on Housing for Disadvantaged People.
Prior to her current position, she worked as a Project Manager for Esquirol Hospital, developing a network on suffering and precariousness in partnership with Samusocial.  She has also worked as communications officer for ‘Together Against AIDS’; a collective that brings together leading researchers and organisations fighting against AIDS in France and abroad. Ms Parigi has also been a journalist, working internationally as well as in France.
  Yvan Mayeur
Yvan Mayeur has been a Member of the Belgian Federal Parliament since 1999. He is a Member of the Bureau and the Federal Committee of the Socialist Party. Mr Mayeur is also President of the Public Centre for Social Action (CPAS) in Brussels. He has a background in social work and is President of the Samusocial in Brussels. He is also President of Maisons des Quartiers, an organisation that seeks to combat the isolation and loneliness of vulnerable people in the city. Mr Mayeur is also president of two theatres; Les Tanneurs and Varia.
Key Question 2: Ending homelessness: A realistic goal?

  Juha Kaakinen
Juha Kaakinen is the Programme Leader of the Finnish National Programme to reduce long-term homelessness.   From 1979 to 1990 he worked for the City of Helsinki in the homelessness services as a social worker and as an office manager. Since 1990 he has been the managing director of a research and development company owned by eight municipalities. He has written several research papers on homelessness issues including an evaluation of the Government´s Programme for Reducing Homelessness (2001-2005). In 2007 he worked as a secretary for two working groups appointed by the Ministry of the Environment that prepared the new programme for the elimination of long-term homelessness. He was also an invited expert member on the Board of the Y-Foundation from 1986 to 2003.

  Raffaele Tangorra
M.Sc. in Economics at the London School of Economics and Ph.D. in Economics at the University of Pavia, Raffaele Tangorra joined the Italian public administration in 1999 as Senior Economist in the Department for Economic Affairs of the Prime Minister’s Office, working mainly in the area of welfare and labour market policies. His current position is Director General for Social Inclusion, Social Rights and CSR in the Ministry of Labour and Social Policies (since 2006). His main responsibilities are in the area of policies against poverty and social exclusion, children’s rights, people with disabilities, long term care, and management of national funds for social assistance policies.
As Italian representative in the Indicators Sub-Group of the Social Protection Committee (SPC), Mr Tangorra contributed to the Laeken Report on social indicators adopted in 2001 and to the Report on the new portfolio of indicators adopted in 2006. He is currently Italian representative in the SPC. He chaired the EU Task-force that produced the Report Growth, Jobs and Social Progress (2009), an evaluation by the SPC of the social dimension of the Lisbon Strategy. He has also published a number of articles and reports in the area of social policies.
  Isobel Anderson
Professor Isobel Anderson is Chair in Housing Studies and Director of the Housing Policy and Practice Unit at the University of Stirling, Scotland, where she has worked since 1994. She has broad research interests in housing, inequality and social exclusion, with a particular focus on homelessness, health & well-being, and international comparisons.  She has held research grants from a range of government departments, research councils, research trusts and voluntary agencies and has published widely for scholarly, policy and practice audiences.
Isobel Anderson is the founder and joint co-ordinator of the working group on Welfare Policy, Homelessness and Social Exclusion within the European Network for Housing Research. She is also an advisor to the European Observatory on Homelessness (convened by FEANTSA). As Director of HPPU, Isobel is also active in teaching on the MSc in Housing, in PhD Supervision, and in the development of Continuing Professional Development and Knowledge Exchange activities for housing policy and practice.
Key Question 3: Are housing-led policy approaches the most effective methods of preventing and tackling homelessness?
Volker Busch Geertsema
Volker Busch-Geertsema is a sociologist. He is a longstanding member and current co-ordinator of the European Observatory on Homelessness. He is a senior researcher at GISS Bremen (Association for Innovative Research and Social Planning). He is specialised in homelessness research and has participated in a number of European Research networks on homelessness. He is author of a several books and a large number of articles on different aspects of homelessness and housing policy in Germany and Europe. He has undertaken a number of research projects on the integration of formerly homeless people into regular self-contained housing, often combined with floating support, and has published a number of research reports and articles about this.
  Claire Roumet
Claire Roumet is the Secretary General of CECODHAS Housing Europe. She is French and graduated in economics. She did a post-graduate degree in European policies at the IEP of Strasbourg, after a year of studying econometrics in Mainz, Germany. She worked first as a lobbyist for the European Women’s Lobby, an EU network active in the field of women’s rights. She then worked as an expert on social economy and the development of the European third sector for the European Commission. CECODHAS, established in 1988, is the European network for the promotion of the right to decent housing for all. Its membership contains 45 regional and national federations, which together represent over 39.000 public, voluntary and cooperative social housing enterprises in 19 countries. CECODHAS members work together for a Europe that provides access to decent and affordable housing for all in communities which are socially, economically and environmentally sustainable and where all are enabled to reach their full potential
  María José Aldanas
María José Aldanas is a lawyer and works at the Projects and Studies Department of Provivienda, a Spanish NGO, whose main aim is to facilitate access to adequate housing for disadvantaged groups. The department is in charge of designing the new projects of the organization and drafting studies on access to housing for vulnerable groups. Ms Aldanas completed a Masters in Migration and Intercommunity Relations (specialised in Migration Policies and Migration Law) at the Universidad Autónoma of Madrid. She worked for Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) in the ‘4th World Project’ in Madrid. She started working for Provivienda as an immigration adviser at the Legal Department of an Immigration Social Centre in Madrid. The centre ran some emergency apartments and provided social and legal advice to immigrants. Later, in 2006 she took charge of projects addressed to the migrant population through mediation in the rental market. Since September 2006 Maria José has represented Provivienda in the Housing Working Group of FEANTSA.
Key Question 4: How can meaningful participation of homeless people in the development of homelessness policies be assured?
Brigitte Hartung
Brigitte Hartung was born and grew up in Switzerland. She is a qualified draughtswoman. Brigitte was homeless between 1984 and 1993. In 1997, she started working for “Initiative Bauen Wohnen Arbeiten e.V.”, a self-construction employment and housing project for homeless people in Cologne, Germany. Since 2000 Brigitte has a leading role in the organisation. She is also undertaking training to become a “NLP- Resonanz Trainer” at the Institute Kutschera in Vienna.
  Christian Stark
Christian Stark was born in Innsbruck, Austria in 1961. He is a graduate of the University of Innsbruck with a Masters in Pedagogy and Political Sciences and a PHD in Pedagogy. In addition, he gained a Social Work Diploma at the Academy for Social Work in Innsbruck. For 12 years he worked with homeless people as a street worker and a manager of a day centre. From 2000-2002 he was Executive Director of an association for drug counselling and from 2002–2 004 he was manager of an association for supported housing for people with disabilities.
Since 2004, Christian is professor of Social Work at the University of applied Sciences Linz/Upper Austria. His main research and teaching interests include theory, history and ethics of social work and homelessness. He is a member of the Board of the Austrian Federation of Social Work and SOS-Menschenrechte (Association for Refugees and Human Rights) and sits on the editorial board of the European Journal of Social work.
  Pedro Meca
Pedro Meca is a social worker and Dominican priest. Born in the Basque Country in Spain, he moved to France aged 17. From 1977 to 1984 he worked as an outreach worker for the organisation Vouloir Vraiment Vivre at Cloître, a bar-disco in Paris. He was part of a team working with people in distress, particularly those affected by drugs and alcohol.  In 1984, when Cloître closed down, some of the team decided to continue their work and the organisation was reborn under the name les Compagnons de la Nuit. This organisation undertook social and outreach work during the night within the local neighbourhood. Eight years later, La Moquette was opened. This is an unconventional meeting place – open to all without exception, particularly in the evening and at night. It provides an opportunity for homeless people and non-homeless people – citizens in different social and personal situations – to meet, to talk and to exchange ideas.  Retired since 2005, Pedro continues to be involved in outreach work and often participates in events and conferences, as well as contributing to various publications. 
Key Question 5: To what extent should people be able to access homeless services irrespective of their legal status and citizenship?

  Sorcha Mckenna
Sorcha McKenna is a full time investigator with the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission which is based in Belfast. She is co-author, with Roisin Devlin, of the report No Home from Home- homelessness and persons with no or limited recourse to public funds. The report which was published in September 2009 examines the extent of homelessness and destitution among non UK nationals living in Northern Ireland and the impact of legislation, policy and practice on the state responses they receive. In addition to working full time Sorcha is also writing her doctoral thesis in the area of international human rights and accountability with the Transitional Justice Institute.

  Preben Brandt
Preben Brandt was born in 1944. He studied medicine at the University of Copenhagen and specialized in psychiatry. He published his doctor’s thesis on Yngre Hjemløse (Young Homeless) in 1992. Between 1985 and 1997, he worked as a psychiatric consultant at the public institute for homeless people in Copenhagen. In 1997, Preben founded the NGO projekt UDENFOR and was director of the organisation until 2003. Since then, he has been the President of projekt UDENFOR. Preben was chairman of the “National Narcotics Council of Denmark (1994 – 2002). Since 2002, he has been chairman of the “National Council for Socially Excluded Groups”. Since 1989 he has been working on the streets. He has conducted various pieces of research in the area of homelessness, in particular street homelessness and has published a range of scientific articles, debates and books.
Xavier Vandromme
Xavier Vandromme is Délégué à la Vie Associative for the organisation Emmaüs in Paris. He has held this post since 2008. He is a qualified social worker and has a broad range of experience within the homeless sector. He has managed various homeless services including a shelter, transitional accommodation and reintegration centre (résidence sociale et Centre d’hébergement et de Réinsertion Sociale) and a shelter for young migrant workers (Foyer de jeunes travailleurs). From 1992 to 2008 he was Managing Director of Emmaüs. He is a member of the bureau of Emmaüs Europe and a member of Emmaüs International’s World Council for Political Action and International Solidarity. He has a Masters degree in Social Practice from the Sorbonne University and in Urban Development in Europe from the University of Marne la Vallée. In 1996 he published the book Vieillir Immigré et Célibataire en Foyer (Getting older as a single immigrant in hostel accommodation).
Key Question 6: What should be the elements of an EU strategy on homelessness?
Freek Spinnewijn
Freek Spinnewijn has been the director of FEANTSA since 2001. FEANTSA is a European network of NGOs working on the issue of homelessness, and has members in 30 European countries. FEANTSA is the only major European network that focuses exclusively on homelessness at European level. Freek sits on the steering group of several European and national research and exchange projects on homelessness.
  Hugh Frazer
Hugh Frazer is Adjunct Professor in the Department of Applied Social Studies at NUI Maynooth since 2006. From 2001-2006 he was an expert in the European Commission and he now works as an independent expert on European social inclusion policies.  He currently coordinates an EU wide Network of Independent Experts on Social Inclusion for the European Commission.  He is a former director of the Combat Poverty Agency (1987-2001) and the Northern Ireland Voluntary Trust (1979-1987).  Originally from Co. Antrim he started work in Belfast as a community and youth worker.  He has written and lectured extensively on issues of poverty and social exclusion, child poverty, community development and community relations. He is also an artist and exhibits frequently in major exhibitions in Ireland and Brussels.
  Julien Damon
Julien Damon is Associate professor at Sciences Po (Urban Planning Department). He is the former President of the French National Observatory on Poverty and Social Exclusion and former head of department social affairs at the Centre for Strategic Analysis (reporting to the Prime Minister). He is also former General Advisor of the Social Inclusion Forum and a member of the Scientific Council of the Mission Research on Law and Justice.
Flo Clucas
Flo Clucas is a full member of the EU Committee of the Regions and is First Vice President of the Liberal Democrat Group (ALDE), the first woman to have that role.
She has been a member of Liverpool City Council since 1986 and has held a range of portfolio responsibilities as Opposition Spokesperson and as Executive Member since 1998. She is currently Executive Member for Economic Development and Europe, having held posts as diverse as Resources, Housing, Social Care and Community Safety.
She has been Chair of the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts since 2000 and is Chair of the N W European Partnership. She is a member of a number of organizations including the Boards of: Liverpool Science Park, Enterprise Liverpool, Business Liverpool and Council of the Chamber of Commerce.
Flo has been a member of the Objective 1 PMC since 1998 and Chair of the Projects Committee since 2001.  She was formerly a member of the Fed Exec, and Chair of the NW Region. She is a founder and Chair of “Enabling Choices”, looking at the role of women in society. Flo is a founder member of “Hands Across the Sea”, a charity for tsunami relief in Sri Lanka.
She was appointed OBE in 2005, for services to the community of Merseyside, and in her free time enjoys French Music hall and Genealogy.
Karima Delli
Karima Delli is a French politician and a Member of the European Parliament elected in the 2009 European elections for the Ile-de-France constituency.
She obtained a master of Advanced Studies in political science at the Lille IEP. During this period she met Green Senator Marie-Christine Blandin, later becoming Blandin’s parliamentary assistant.
Delli is a member of the Greens. In the 2009 European elections, she was the fourth candidate on the Europe Ecologie list in the East regions, and was elected to the European Parliament. She is the second-youngest French MEP after Damien Abad. 
Georg Fischer
Georg Fischer is currently Director for the Directorate "Social Protection and Integration" in the Directorate General for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities, and acting Head of Unit for the Unit "Social Protection, Social Services" at the European Commission in Brussels.
From 1996 to 2003 he was in charge of the work on Employment in Analysis within the same Directorate General including the annual "Employment in Europe report", the economic analysis of European labour markets, the assessment of the employment impact of community polices. He was involved in developing the European Employment Strategy.
Prior to this he worked for the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development on employment and social policies in transition economies. He has also worked for the Austrian Government in the Ministries of Finance and Labour as well as in the Social Science Centre Berlin and for the Economic Cooperation Foundation in Tel Aviv, Israel.
Georg Fischer is an economist and studied at the University of Vienna in Austria as well as the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom.


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