Our spring meeting of WG Roma inclusion took on 9-10 April in Toulouse on the theme 'How can cities support Roma to move from camps into adequate housing?'
Rationale of study visit
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 has been selected as one of the cities in France to pilot a Housing First approach, including beneficiaries among Roma.
EUROCITIES organised a study visit to Toulouse to learn in practice from the city's programme for Roma inclusion. The aim was 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 goal was to strengthen the capacity of cities to develop and implement urban solutions for Roma inclusion.
This activity is part of EUROCITIES mutual learning programme between cities funded by the EU programme for Employment and Social Innovation (EaSi) between 2018-2021 under the strategic partnership with the European Commission DG EMPL.
This study visit aimed 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 measures from Toulouse to other cities
- learn how to use ESF for Roma inclusion measures
- analyse policy developments on Roma access to housing from European Semester country reports
35 participants took part in the study visit and policy transfer, from:
- policy-makers and practitioners from cities members of WG Roma inclusion, including politicians from Toulouse
- representatives from local, regional and national authorities in France
- policy experts from EU institutions and international organisations, including European Parliament Anti-Racism and Diversity Intergroup, European Commission, EU's Fundamental Rights Agency, OHCHR, Council of Europe
- representatives of Roma civil society from EU-level umbrella NGOs
- Roma people beneficiaries of inclusion measures in Toulouse and Roma self-advocates from other cities in Europe
City experts part of the EUROCITIES WG Homelessness also joined this study visit to contribute with their expertise in the field and 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 was held back-to-back to the meeting of WG Migration & Integration and some sessions were common to encourage sharing of ideas and knowledge.
The two days of site visits and workshops were structured around policy transfer sessions. Policy transfer involved:
- Toulouse as role model city
- five transfer cities selected upon an open call
- up to 20 other active participating cities and stakeholders
There were three stages in the policy transfer:
- collaborative learning by examining in depth the processes, results, success factors and challenges Toulouse faced in implementing its policies for housing inclusion of Roma; participating cities can share 'critical friendly feedback' to Toulouse to help the host city continue and further improve its work in the field of housing inclusion of Roma.
- co-creation of action plans for replicating cities by identifying factors that can support transferability of good practices from Toulouse and how to adapt them to the local conditions in their cities
- follow-up and monitoring of progress - both Toulouse and the replicating cities as well as other active participating cities share plans for follow-up based on the learnings from the study visit; a follow-up and monitoring process is set up at about 6 months after the visit.
Outcomes and impact
- we developed guidelines for cities on how to develop integrated plans for a sustainable exit from camps into adequate housing based on lessons from Tolouse's practices
- developed 4 action plans for cities to transfer some of the lessons from Toulouse into actions for housing inclusion of Roma
- 35 city policy-makers and practitioners improved know-how to use housing solutions to foster Roma inclusion at local level
All working documents for the policy transfer can be found below.