Zuhause Ankommen, combatting homelessness in response to the covid-19 pandemic


Zuhause Ankommen, combatting homelessness in response to the covid-19 pandemic

Mismatches Vulnerable groups Pandemics
Policies and regulations National policies Evaluation and impact
Promotion and production Public-private partnerships

Main objectives of the project

Amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, addressing immediate needs and enacting lasting solutions to societal challenges can be concurrent endeavors. 'Zuhause ankommen'—German for 'arriving home'—addresses the exacerbated housing issues during the pandemic while concurrently implementing a sustainable strategy to eradicate homelessness. From May 2021 to April 2022, the initiative allocated 240 apartments to accommodate 600 individuals lacking access to affordable housing across five regions in Austria. Financed by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Social Affairs, Health, Care, and Consumer Protection with €2.65 million, the project primarily targeted those severely impacted by the socio-economic consequences of Covid-19 measures, notably homeless individuals and those at risk of homelessness. 'Zuhause ankommen' establishes a diverse coalition of stakeholders committed to effectively addressing the complex issue of homelessness in a sustainable manner. By amplifying the Housing First approach to a national scale, the project currently operates through a supra-regional strategy with the objective of raising awareness about homelessness and providing tangible solutions.


  • 2021: Implementation


  • GBV
  • BAWO
  • ustrian Federal Ministry of Social Affairs, Health, Care, and Consumer Protection


Continent: Europe
Country/Region: Austria


The COVID-19 was a tough blow for the most vulnerable people. Despite the adminsitriave efforts, in many countries there was a rise in homelessness. This was also the risk in Austria. While subsidies on rent were provided by the Austrian government in 2020, experts including BAWO, the Austrian National Platform of Social Services Provided for the Homeless predicted a rise in poverty, evictions, and homelessness during the pandemic. On the other hand, limited-profit housing associations play a crucial role in fostering housing inclusion through affordable rents and their social mandate. Nonetheless, within this segment, the most vulnerable groups encounter structural challenges, particularly concerning upfront contributions from potential tenants, often unaffordable for those near or below the poverty line. So, there was a threat that they could not able to provide the needed help during the pandemic.

"Zuhause Ankommen" wanted to prevend all this. It serves as a model, addressing both immediate pandemic-induced homelessness and long-term homelessness. This initiative integrates the Austrian limited-profit housing sector, represented by GBV, with the social service sector, represented by BAWO. Collaborating member organizations allocate flats and offer social care, with project expenses funded by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Social Affairs, Health, Care, and Consumer Protection.

The project budget covers tenants' upfront contributions, moving expenses, and professional social support, facilitating access for those affected by poverty. Moreover, social organizations assist with home matching and provide support upon arrival, promoting self-sufficiency and independence. The project, closely monitored for fair access regarding age and gender, has allocated 240 flats to people affected by poverty and homelessness. Its success has led to more housing associations joining, furthering the adoption of the Housing First principle to end homelessness sustainably and promote reintegration. Presently, 38 housing associations participate.

Tenants and landlords benefit from tools developed in collaboration with social service organizations, ensuring stable tenancies. "Zuhause Ankommen" offers evidence of innovative housing solutions across Austrian regions, catering to diverse needs in rural and urban areas. Employing Housing First as an innovative method within homeless services, the initiative prioritizes housing as a starting point, offering stability to the most vulnerable.

The strategic communication of the project seek to change how the public views homelessness and the innovative solutions offered by "zuhause ankommen." Utilizing various channels such as social media, digital platforms, print media, and press coverage, the project's achievements and core messages are disseminated to stakeholders, interest groups, policymakers, and the general public.

The project's participatory approach focuses on matching suitable and affordable housing with potential tenants, fostering social inclusion, mixed communities, and stable tenancies. An evaluation process involving workshops and interviews with stakeholders and beneficiaries ensures ongoing improvement, with results informing future efforts against homelessness. By building knowledge and trust between the limited-profit housing sector and the social service sector, "Zuhause Ankommen" exemplifies a strategic, sustainable strategy to combat homelessness, earning recognition such as the European Responsible Housing Award 2022.