Formation of a Latin American working group on the homeless

Six Latin American countries (Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Paraguay, and Uruguay) participated in a workshop on policies to help homeless people that was held from 26th to 28th October in Brussels, Belgium

The workshop, held in coordination with the European Federation of National Organisations Working with the Homeless (FEANTSA), laid the groundwork for forming a Permanent Latin American Working Group to exchange experiences, tools, training, and lessons learnt between the countries, with access to the European experience.

Latin America shows uneven progress in the development of policies for helping homeless people in the region. Nevertheless, the remaining challenges demand stronger prioritisation, definition, and the implementation of comprehensive policies that address the multiple dimensions homeless people pass through, from a perspective of rights that includes promoting the participation of the homeless population itself.

Since 2013, EUROsociAL, a European Union cooperation programme, has been supporting Latin American countries in the process of strengthening these policies, either through activities to support specific governments or through exchange activities at the regional level. Within this framework, collaboration was developed with FEANTSA, the main European exponent of the organisations that work with homeless people and a space for reflection and research on this subject.

During the workshop in Brussels, work was done on two major issues which had been defined as priorities for the participating countries:

  • Comprehensive strategies for approaching homeless people
  • Information system and monitoring of homeless people

The work included presentations, field visits, and exchanges between the participants and experts.

In addition, as a result, the participants proposed the formation of a Permanent Working Group made up of Latin American institutions working in the social area on this issue. This group is proposed as a governmental institutional space for exchanging experiences, tools, training, and lessons learnt and, thanks to the coordination with FEANTSA, it will also benefit from the European experience.

The objectives of the Group refer to this exchange and to reciprocal strengthening of a series of concrete points: the conceptual-contextual approach of policies to help the homeless; raising the awareness of national administrations, international bodies, and society as a whole; information, monitoring, and evaluation of policies; generation of knowledge; training and preparation of professionals; definition of minimum standards for the delivery of services; promotion of civil society organisations and of participation by the beneficiaries.

A first step for advancing in the institutionalisation of the Working Group will be to share a consensus document, prepared during the workshop, with the highest sectoral and intersectoral authorities in each of the countries for the purpose of inserting the issue of homelessness on the region's social protection agenda.