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Untitled Document
Welfare Policy, Homelessness and Social Exclusion (WELPHASE)

Created in 2003 (First workshop held in 2004)

Evelyn Dyb
Norwegian Institute for Urban and Regional Research (NIBR)
Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences
Oslo, Norway
Joe Finnerty
School of Applied Social Studies
University College Cork
Cork, Ireland


Magdalena Mostowska
University of Warsaw
Warszawa, Poland
Yoshiro Okamoto
Chukyo University
School of Business and Public Policies
Nagoya, Japan

Central Theme
The WELPHASE working group was founded in 2003 and has given a workshop at every annual ENHR conference since 2004. In the initial phase homelessness was the core focus of the working group. Increasing awareness of the relationship between homelessness, housing and social exclusion in a broader sense and welfare policy in Europe is reflected in the papers presented at the more recent conference workshops hosted by the WELPHASE WG. The papers usually represent a substantial thematic diversity framed by the main topics of the WG.

Future Plans / Activities
WELPHASE WG is planning a workshop at the next ENHR conference in Tirana in 2017. Coordinators will welcome a broad range of papers concerning welfare policy, homelessness and housing exclusion along with current interests of the researchers and hope to have a fruitful discussion on those issues in a comparative perspective. Taking the opportunity that the next ENHR conference will be organized in Tirana, the WELPHASE WG would like to welcome especially papers and presentations dealing with refugees’ homelessness situations in the Southern European and Balkan context.

Past activities
The WELPHASE WG is holding a workshop at every ENHR conference since 2004 and welcomes papers at different stages of development varying from papers already accepted by a journal to mere drafts. The workshop offers an opportunity to receive comments and proceed with papers at the draft stage. Following the procedure of earlier workshops, a discussant was appointed to papers circulated within the workshop participants in advance, but also leaving time for questions and a general discussion.

A total of 12 papers were discussed at the workshop at the last ENHR conference in Belfast in 2016. There were papers dealing with fundamental questions, such as the concept of “well-being” and its applicability to housing research or an interesting discussion on interpretations of housing policy after a presentation provocatively titled “Are conservatives trying to kill social housing in England?”

A large part of the workshop was devoted to presentations of ongoing projects, in different stages of completion. These dealt with many different, specific questions, such as: governance of homelessness in case of Norwegian prison inmates; comparing survival strategies of homeless migrants in the US and Scotland; finding suitable programmes that would overcome “harvesting economy” among people exiting homelessness in Norway; gender-bias in statistics and access to homeless services in Poland; and comparison of juvenile protective care in the EU and Japan.

More papers from the UK and Ireland were presented on the second day of the workshop. There were two presentations from the Dublin Region Homeless Executive showing the latest developments in housing needs in Ireland, as well as the data collection system, which convincingly pointed to a group of homeless people suitable for support according to the Housing First approach. Interventions and policies focused on smaller groups of people with housing difficulties were exemplified by research on innovative programmes created by landlords for young people and on specialist hospital discharge arrangements to prevent homelessness in England.

The workshop ended with an interesting discussion after a paper on competition and choice in housing. This critical view on the policy interventions on the demand side (such as housing benefits that are actually increasing competition between tenants) gave a fresh view on the so-called failure of the housing policy in Europe in the last decades.

Policy implications
The WELPHASE WG has strong links with research focused on social work, policy practice and policy evaluations. Many of workshop participants are practitioners in the field presenting their work for governmental, local governmental or voluntary bodies dealing with homelessness, housing policy and social exclusion. Homelessness research performed by academics is also of large interest to those who design and implement policy “on the ground”. Research presented at the WELPHASE workshop deals both with major issues of nation-wide policies, as well as small-scale practical problems of everyday work of case-managers and the like. The workshop is an excellent example of mutual implications and links between research and policy.