The project Housing First für Frauen (Housing First for Women) assists homeless women in getting away from homelessness with their own lease agreements and reliable advisory services. Impressed by the idea and by the provider, Deutsche Wohnen contributes to the project in cooperation with Sozialdienst katholischer Frauen e. V. Berlin, or SkF for short. After approximately one year of cooperation, Shari Jasmin Becker, who is responsible at Deutsche Wohnen for housing placement, makes an absolutely positive interim assessment on the part of Deutsche Wohnen. In an interview, the deputy head of the Letting team at Deutsche Wohnen Immobilien Management GmbH explains what makes Housing First für Frauen so special.
Ms Becker, how many women have already been lifted out of homelessness thanks to the project?
I am delighted to say that, over the space of approximately a year, we have already been able to help 15 homeless women secure an apartment. This is especially pleasing because it looks like all the women have so far succeeded in starting a new life as a result too. It is certainly looking very good, at least.
What sets Housing First apart from other initiatives of this kind?
With other support programmes for the homeless, getting your own apartment is usually the ultimate goal rather than the first step. Housing First takes the opposite approach and says that having your own, safe apartment is a prerequisite for independently creating a new existence for yourself and taking the necessary steps for this such as undergoing therapy or finding a job. The women are only given assistance in their day-today lives if this is something they explicitly want. This promotes independence too.
How do the women find their way to you and to SkF?
In a variety of ways. Some of them turn to the project Evas Haltestelle (Eva’s Stop), which enables homeless women to meet their basic needs in the areas of food, sleep, personal hygiene and laundry. The staff then bring Housing First to their attention. Others learn about it from a flyer or from a tip from their social worker. What all the women have in common is that they have fallen through the gaps in the social care system or are ashamed to make use of government assistance.