NIK on state’s support for homeless people

There are about 30.7 thousand homeless people in Poland. Their number has been constant for at least four years now. The state’s financial outlays for the care of the homeless are growing. PLN 183.6 million was spent on that purpose in 2013.

The majority of the homeless (72 percent) stay in social welfare centres designed for that purpose. In Poland there are nearly 650 boarding houses for the homeless with 22.5 thousand places. In autumn and winter homeless people (80 percent of them are men) stay in large city agglomerations.

NIK positively evaluates the activity of local governments in large cities and their cooperation with NGOs, particularly in the autumn and winter time. The homeless are provided with shelter in the boarding houses, clothes suitable for a given time of the year and a hot meal. The social welfare centres pay allowances and health insurance contributions for the homeless. In most audited cities homeless persons could use legal advice. Social workers helped them also to register in a job centre, have their ID cards made, start treatment or an addiction therapy. Based on contracts with NGOs, group and individual activities were carried out in most institutions to solve problems of the homeless (alcohol addictions in particular) and teach them life and social skills, essential to live outside social welfare centres.

The NIK audit showed, however, that local governments too rarely use the opportunity to cover the homeless by an individual programme against homelessness. Out of six audited social welfare centres only one provided such possibility. In 2012 all around Poland, 3.5 thousand people were included in individual programmes against homelessness. The outcome was 2.7 thousand homeless who became independent.

According to NIK, effective system actions require that the homelessness issue needs to be identified locally in a professional way. The very information on the scale of paid allowances, number of meals given out and persons who were provided a shelter is not sufficient to plan local activities to support the homeless. Considering migration of the homeless and the seasonal nature of this phenomenon, the lack of deep knowledge of the subject may lead to an incorrectly calculated municipality budget. In consequence, the number of places in boarding houses and shelters may be contracted improperly.

Non-governmental organisations and associations for the homeless used public subsidies in a correct way. The organisations helping the homeless were selected in open tender and contracts with them were developed properly. All organisations had equipment and facilities which they specified in the tenders.

Since 2010, the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy has executed the Programme for the return of homeless people to society. The Programme is to activate homeless people in vocational and social terms and to support the homelessness prevention. However, its reach and effectiveness is limited by a relatively small scale of funds. The budget for shortlisted NGOs totals PLN 5 million yearly, which makes up 2.7 percent of expenditures in 2013 incurred for the financing of the homeless support.

The Ministry has worked out nationwide standards for the quality of services addressed to homeless persons. The standards were not implemented by the audit end date, though.

According to NIK, the administration should guarantee a homeless support system not only to eliminate ad hoc effects but also to put an end to homelessness and eliminate its causes. For that purpose commitment and cooperation is needed of many institutions, responsible not only for the social policy, but also for housing, family, immigration and health policies (e.g. in terms of quitting additions, depression, etc.) All that needs proper financing of activities, both preventive and activating ones, addressed to persons who require institutional support.

NIK stands in a position that the Council of Ministers should adopt the National Programme against Poverty and Social Exclusion 2002. New dimension of social integration developed by the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy. It provides for activities for the development of social construction and housing, prevention of flat loss as well as rent debts and evictions. It also shows how important it is to diagnose and measure the issue of housing exclusion, including the homelessness problem solving. The Programme specified dates of individual activities, presented their financing sources and the list of ministers responsible for the implementation and coordination of those activities.

 

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Date of creation:
07 July 2014 12:26
Date of publication:
07 July 2014 12:26
Published by:
Marta Połczyńska
Date of last change:
07 July 2014 12:26
Last modified by:
Marta Połczyńska
NIK on state’s support for homeless people © Fotolia

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