Ponta Delgada Municipality implements ‘Housing First’ program

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The mayor of Ponta Delgada today defended the need for the municipality to meet the “real needs” of homeless people, under the pilot project PDL ‘Housing First’.

Speaking to reporters, Pedro do Nascimento Cabral said the project will move forward with two houses in the municipality of Ponta Delgada, aiming to take “a safe step, sure, firm, in order to improve the quality of life of those who have no roof to shelter from the rain and cold”.

The municipality today promoted the signing of cooperation protocols with Novo Dia – Association for Social Inclusion, and with Crescer na Maior, in the noble hall of the City Hall, which are the municipality’s partners in implementing ‘Housing First’ in Ponta Delgada.

The ‘Housing First’ project emerged in the United States of America about 20 years ago and was introduced in Portugal in 2009, and 90% of the people welcomed by the initiative have not returned to homelessness.

In this project, people are integrated into individual housing and are monitored by technicians who teach them how to manage a home with a view to their social integration.

Ponta Delgada has been registering an increase in the number of homeless people, and several business associations have expressed “deep concern” over the “increase in poverty, begging, alcoholism and drug addiction” in the city center.

According to the mayor, who has several studies, the number of homeless people in the municipality fluctuates and is currently around 200 people.

Pedro do Nascimento Cabral also said that, following the “evolution of the situation”, the Ponta Delgada City Hall and the two associations involved will be “available to make the project a success”, through more housing.

Américo Nave, executive director of Crescer na Maior, promoter of the project in Lisbon, recalled that, in the capital, it started with seven houses, in 2013, and today there are 380 homes under the ‘Housing First’.

He also said that “there are many other cities developing this project, which has also proven to be very effective around the world.

“This project starts by giving a house and then we can take care of everything else that is necessary, such as mental health and addictive behaviors”, emphasized Américo Nave.

The associative leader referred that international data reveals that “80 to 85% of the people don’t return to homelessness”, increasing this value to 90% in the case of Lisbon.

Hélder Fernandes, from Novo Dia Association, said that, “in this first phase, there will be a street approach to people who are homeless”, which will focus on “those who have been living on the street for longer and who do not use the existing social services, or who have some addictive behavior or mental illness”.

“In the future, the goal is to cover as many people as possible, because we are talking about people without a home and without a roof, and they all have the right to housing”, said Hélder Fernandes, who pointed out that his association currently monitors 150 homeless people.

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