Housing Studies has published a paper that I have co-authored with two Italian colleagues, Alice Stefanizzi and Marta Gaboardi. The paper is entitled: ‘Passive adaptation or active engagement? The challenges of Housing First internationally and in the Italian case.’ In it we offer a critical overview of a peculiar homelessness policy, Housing First, which is becoming increasingly popular in Europe and the UK. We approach Housing First investigating its international success — as a case of policy mobility — and we illustrate the challenges of its implementation in contexts beyond the US. Having being involved, at different phases, with the Network Housing First Italia, we take the Italian case as an example to illustrate these challenges in details. We hope that this paper will contribute to the already existent — although rather minoritarian — critical approach to Housing First (which, to be clear, does not reject the policy but it argues for a non-superficial implementation).
In recent years, a peculiar homelessness policy that goes under the name of ‘Housing First’ has become increasingly popular all over the world. Epitomising a quintessential case of policy-mobility, Housing First can today be considered an heterogeneous assemblage of experiences and approaches that sometimes have little in common with each other. Introducing and commenting upon this heterogeneity, the paper critically analyses why and how Housing First has become a planetary success and what are the issues at stake with its widespread implementation. If recent scholarship published in this journal has granted us a fine understanding of Housing First’s functioning in the US, this paper offers something currently absent from the debate: a nuanced and critical understanding of the ambiguities related to the international success of this policy, with specific references to the challenges associated to its translation in the Italian case.