Visits to projects and institutions in Milano

Center for Housing Autonomy of CeAS and of Casa della Carità.
Meeting with managers and operators on the reception of Roma and Sinti families in the reception centers
and stories of Roma inclusion

They began working with Roma people in 2004 with volunteers going to an irregular camp, offering basic assistance to
Roma people mainly coming from Romania (that at the time was not a member of the EU): cultural mediation, health assistance, accompaniment to school for children.
In 2005 one of the group with which they were working called to inform them that there was an ongoing eviction. The Director of Casa della Carità opened the door of the organization to shelter the evicted families in the auditorium and started a media campaign to look for a place for them to stay.

They gained support from the Province of Milano, which provided some flats and started a partnership with
CEAS, which also offered to host some families in some apartments.

Once they found a temporary housing solution for the families, they started to work with a mediator at group level and at family level, assess their specific needs and conditions, in order to develop tailored personal projects.

That was Casa della Carità first experience of inclusion with Roma people. Families had different situations: educated or not, skilled or not, etc. Personal path toward inclusion have been developed not through a preexisting methodology, but based on individual needs.
1.Support to school insertion for children, also supporting the schools in the development of inclusion
strategies for these kids.

2. Projects supporting women

3. Literacy course

4. Professional courses

Activities went on until 2009. At the end, 80% of the beneficiaries moved to regular homes.
In 2012 the Municipality of Pioltello ( a small town near Milano) contacted Casa della Carità because they needed to evict an irregular camp and wanted support from social actors and mediators. The model was therefore replicated in the area of Pioltello. From that moment on, Casa della Carità was more able to influence also the policies of the municipality of Milano.
The project was integrated in the offer of the municipality of Milano, becoming an “institutional” project.

Since 2005 they have been supporting over 400 people: 179 children have been accompanied to school, some have reached high school diploma, 2 are attending university. It shows how the project can break the poverty and marginalisation vicious circles.

It is important to provide a space and a time to change your life, not with a day-to-day approach, but with a long term approach. In order to develop social knowledge and skills, Roma need a house (space) and time.
Empowerment means having the tools.
At the beginning, focus was on preventing financial distress.
It takes time and a variety of policy instruments.
It is politics, but politics can be influenced with facts.
It has to be a comprehensive approach that combine actions, with knowledge, with communication, with networking.
Together with third sector organisations, the municipality of Milano elaborated a Local action plan for Roma inclusion, but elections are too close, so it is remaining on the table for now. Politicians risk losing consent when supporting Roma.

Equipe Ortles 73 – Multidisciplinary team: schooling, employment, housing, maintenance and contrasting situations of degradation in authorized camps
Meeting with staff and operators who carried out the R-HOME interviews and participated in the Focus
Groups. Exchange of experiences and comparison.

Ortles 73 is a multidisciplinary service dealing with Roma and Sinti families and other disadvantaged families.
The Municipality is partner of the project, together with private social non profit organizations. It involves a specialist service of the service area of the Municipality, who made a temporary business association with the social cooperative Spazio Aperto Servizi and the social cooperative Farsi Prossimo, establishing a coplanning framework for public-private partnership.

Its main strength is resources networking. The aim is to accompany and support families with minors, with an all-round support and accompaniment to territorial services.
There is a multidisciplinary team involving: 1 coordinator, 2 responsible for the regular camps, 1 responsible for temporary housing structures, social workers, counsellors and mediators. In the day-to-day activity, they meet in small teams focusing on specific issues: education, housing, employment and health (the 4 pillars of the national plan for inclusion).

It is a system combining social secretariat (accompaniment to school, work and health services) and temporary housing solutions. At present it assist approximately 620 people.

Concerning the regular camps (where Italian Roma or foreign documented Roma live), the team of Ortles 73 visits all camps weekly, to collect the needs of the inhabitants and to provide assistance for ordinary maintenance of the camps.

The families that express a housing need are accompanied toward housing inclusion. The team facilitate their access to public housing with the collaboration of the territorial centers supporting bureaucratic procedures (CAF). Also, they provide a map of private alternative solutions of social housing.

Social workers observe different attitudes by the part of the families:
– some inhabitants wish to leave the camp;

– others do not ask for it, they invested in their mobile home since generations (regular camps are authorized since the 60s) and are happy to live there;

– others are disillusioned: they tried to access public housing and failed, however they often wish to try again.

The modalities for accessing public houses in Milano have recently changed: once, the call for applications was published every few years, resulting in very long waiting lists which took years to climb; today, the call for application is published once or twice a year and there is no waiting list, only a prompt approval or rejection for each request. This change aimed at the valorization of the housing public resources (homes belong to the Municipality or Region).
Requests are many in numbers, and the application has strict requisites that people struggle to demonstrate. One main requirement is that you need to prove to be resident in the Municipality since many years.
In every application, the family can apply for a maximum of 5 places of choice. The critical issues are linked to the fact that the bureaucratic procedure is complex and often requires support and has a cost for the applicant (revenue stamp on the demand).
Note: the calls for application are not specifically addressed to Roma, but to all the people having housing

Concerning the temporary housing solutions, there is a different modality for access.
The team Ortles 73 provides a social secretariat service with social workers and educators, through a contact center active every day from 9am to 1 pm and from 3:30pm to 5pm.
This service is reserved for families with minors, while homeless and severely emarginated adults are directed to another specific service of the Municipality.
They conduct personal interviews with the people requiring assistance and living on the street or in marginalized situation, in collaboration with the territorial services of the Municipality of Milano and surrounding towns.
There is a long waiting list of people asking for housing support, however the fact that the offered housing solutions are temporary allow for a rather quick advance of the list. These solutions usually provide 12-18 months extendable contracts