"It was important to us to learn from other cities experiences and share ours. It was also important to share the knowledge from other european cities with our local stakeholders to enhance the shift. If others managed to do it ther is no reason for us not to achieve this change".
Toulouse Métropole is a dynamic urban area with a regular demographic growth of 14,000 new inhabitants per year. Historically being a city of solidarity, social cohesion is one of its main public policies, leading to different types of assistance and housing support for people in need. Despite the present social cohesion and 75,317 social housing units, the increasing housing prices have led a majority of households towards unhealthy and unsafe rentals which leaves 3,914 of the inhabitants homeless.
Faced challenges and strategies
Toulouse Métropole has a large number of social housing units. However, the waiting list remains long (38,458 households on 31 December 2020). Moreover, COVID 19 has delayed the construction and delivery of the units. Nevertheless, based on the national goal for cities with over 3,500 inhabitants, the Toulouse Métropole Urban and Lodging Plan defined a global target of 35% of the annual new housing as social housing. In addition, to ensure social diversity in this housing, a general structure (by the national legislation for social housing) provides three levels of social housing rentals based on the profiles of the households on the waiting list. In addition, The Intercommunal Social Housing Allocation Convention determines an annual quantitative and qualitative objective of households to be housed, giving priority to those more in need.
Activities during the ROOF network project
Since the 1990s, assistance around homelessness in Toulouse Métropole has mainly taken the emergency and staircase approach, while a few interesting programmes with the Housing First (HF) approach have been implemented since 2012. The participation of Toulouse Métropole in the URBACT ROOF network and the transnational exchange between project coordinators, teams and Urbact Local Group members, has contributed to a shift from the staircase approach to the HF approach, leading to a more precise knowledge around homelessness and a better view on what can be achieved through the HF approach long term. The ULG was officially set up in October 2020, including institutional actors and different associations. The members meet every two months allowing knowledge transfer from transitional meetings, discussing goals, and defining Small Scale Actions (SSA), while conducting reflections on Integrated Action Plan (IAP) design and implementation.
"It has been very interesting to discuss with our colleagues (with so different experiences and contexts) from other cities about homelessness and the way to put a policy to eradicate the problem. The sharing of tools from URBACT, helped also to clarify the approach [...] The support from the lead expert was very useful to stay focussed. It will definetely help us locally to strenghen our local policy concerning homelessness and at the same time, with the advocacy part of the project, I finally think that sometimes we can have an influence on the policies developed at a higher level (national, european)".
Homogenization of the message to promote all the different existing tools used by the different stakeholders.
Toulouse Métropole needs affordable housing solutions on the private market. There are many tools available for the private rental sector but there is a lack of one single communication channel that makes them all comprehensible and accessible. The different tools include: fiscal deductions, rental intermediation, rental management mandate, social rental agency, sliding rental contract and more. The SSA will create a unique campaign to attract private renters
and guide them to the single communication channel with the overview of solutions. This will test if better communication tools actually increase the affordable private housing offers and if it is possible to work on the whole metropole area with the same tools. The same informative tools may also have a communication and advocacy effect on the general public. This will also be verified by the SSA.
"In september/october 2022 we will present at the Metropole Council a summary of what has been done through the network during the 2 years and the IAP to have it approved as a guideline for what needs to be implemented or continue to be implemented in the coming years. It will be useful to answer to different calls for project to mobilise new funding for parts of the plan".
Toulouse Métropole's Integrated Action Plan
Despite the different contributing factors, the real shift from the staircase to the Housing First/Led approach was made possible by implementing the Housing First/Led Accelerated Plan.
The ULG, composed of stakeholders (institutions and associations) involved in data collection, social housing production, private sector housing capture, and the support platform, also includes the Social Housing Federation and the Urban and Housing Planning Department of Toulouse Métropole.
Toulouse Métropole’s IAP focuses on four objectives. These objectives include improving the knowledge on homelessness, increasing the affordable housing stock, consolidating the multidisciplinary support offer and preventing the increase of homelessness. Achieving these objectives will be made possible through the following set of actions:
•Organising the annual street count
•Analysing other data available
•Organising a qualitative survey on selected homeless households
•Producing classical social housing and housing for people with specific needs
•Creating a social rental agency
•Conducting a survey on the vacant housing stock in the private rental sector
•Listing all existing and available support services
•Taking on new support measures through an experimental multidisciplinary support platform
•Providing support for employment and professional inclusion
•Prevention of housing eviction
Focus on Toulouse Métropole (FR): Who are the homeless in our city? How many are they?
Friday night, 21st January 2022. The coldest night of the week. Well equipped with several warm layers of clothes, socks, gloves, scarf and cap, I am ready to meet my new team and to discover my new urban itinerary for the homeless street count...
Art and Homelessness
Toulouse has worked on different activities on their project for Art and Homelessness. They were:
- A creative drama workshop
- A creative art workshop
- 3 theatre performances
- An exhibition of the artistic productions
- A final event, ending the ROOF project and starting the Social Innovation Pole inclusive approach.
A creative drama workshop: The Boutique Solidarité started its drama workshops since 2013. In September 2021, the Abbé Pierre Foundation organised a cultural festival “C’est pas du luxe” to promote the artistic productions and skills of people living in precarious situations. Marie-Eve, educator at la Boutique Solidarité called upon “La part manquante” company. This company from Toulouse is interested in spreading, through its productions but also its educational workshops, a theatre that carries thoughts linked to the poetic and the political, without wanting to compartmentalize genres and repertoires.
The workshop was held at The Bonnefoy Cultural Centre every Monday from 14:30 to 16:30, allowing the apprentice actors to become familiar with the practice and discovery of theatre. The course was taught by an actor/director from “La part manquante” company and an educator from la Boutique Solidarité was present to provide workshop supervision and to support physically and psychologically the apprentice actors. The workshop allows participants to use and optimise their body's capacities as well as their voice. It also develops their inventiveness, their ability to improvise, their ability to concentrate and above all their capacity to be moved. During the workshops, the new comedians of the “Dégourdis d’Oc” company (“Wily from Occitania” company) practised respiratory and vocal exercises, improvisation, proposed texts of their choice (existing or created by themselves), shared them, built up a theatre production and played together.
Altogether 18 persons participated to the workshop and 12 participated to the final performances. The ROOF project contributed to increase the number of workshop sessions to have a more consequent final event with a perspective of renewing this kind of event in this specific area of the city.
A creative art workshop: This year, the Abbé Pierre Foundation organiser of the cultural festival “C’est pas du luxe” decided to promote the creation of the festival posters by the people living in precarious situations and the homeless instead of commissioning an artist to produce them. In partnership with the Boutique Solidarité and the Bonnefoy Cultural Centre a new art workshop was set up.
It was decided to call on Benoît Bonnefritte, a local designer, illustrator and graphic designer. He led the poster-making sessions which were held at La Boutique Solidarité with the homeless and people living in precarious situations who regularly come to the day centre. The artist managed to make the participants feel comfortable to try and express themselves through the creation of posters. The general thematic was “Etre en viLLe” (“to be in town”) and it was a way for the homeless to make themself visible in the city. There was a very good participation to the worshop (2nd, 9th; 22nd and 29ty of June) and some of them created a lot of posters. The group was also associated to the creation of the graphic for the official invitation to the final event.
3 theatre performances: Three performances of the created show called “Superka” were scheduled on the 5th at 18:30 and 6th July at 15:30 and at 18:30, in the performance hall of the Bonnefoy Cultural Centre (the hall can host 130 people). The invitation was sent to all the associations working with homeless and people living in precarious situations (street work, day and night centers, shelters…). The performances were free and open for everybody indistinctively. Some professionals attended but most of the public were the homeless and people living in precarious situations accompanied by friends or relatives. The last performance was part of the ROOF Final event. Altogether 234 people attended the event.
An exhibition of the artistic productions: The opening of the exhibition of the posters was organised after the last show on the 6th of July. Mrs Valérie Jacquet-Violleau, Deputy Mayor in charge of sociocultural activities and Mr Daniel Rougé, Deputy Mayor in charge of solidarity and Inclusion took the floor to present the process and to thank all the partners and participants for their involvement. Mrs Christine Régis, director of The Boutique Solidarité, Mrs Eve Chambon, president of the association Arpade and Mrs Sophie Turies from the Abbé Pierre Foundation spoke out also to present and explain the importance of the access to culture for everybody. The artist, Benoît Bonnefritte and 3 participants of the artistic workshop said a few words about the reason and how they felt about this workshop and event.
The exhibition could be visited from the 6th to the 27th of July at the Bonnefoy Cultural Centre. After the opening of the exhibition, all the people present were invited to a time of conviviality around a glass of friendship in the gardens of the Bonnefoy Cultural Centre.