This feasibility study is conducted due to the need for a valid database on housing and homelessness in Austria. Because of multiple crises - the Covid19 pandemic, the tense housing-market situation in the larger cities as well as rapidly rising energy and living costs - people are increasingly exposed to the risk of homelessness. Housing exclusion and homelessness can take different forms, ranging from "hard homelessness", a situation in which people live on the streets, to softer forms, where people are obliged to live with friends and acquaintances. The institutional-care landscape is as diverse as are the causes of homelessness and housing exclusion. Throughout Austria, the data describing this social phenomenon is inconsistent. Consequently, there is the risk of a high rate of unreported figures regarding different aspects of the phenomenon. In order to create a valid database for quantifying homelessness and housing exclusion in Austria, this feasibility study will identify different data sources at the federal, provincial and municipal level and develop a system for coordinated data collection. Thus, we want to provide a differentiated view on this multi-layered phenomenon and create a basis for well-founded political decision-making processes.
The objective of the feasibility study is to analyse existing and potential data sources in order to provide a database for monitoring and evidence-based decision-making on the issue of homelessness in Austria. The existing database will be explored and delineated through comprehensive research (literature review, analysis and evaluation of existing materials, holding a stakeholder workshop). In addition, we will formulate recommendations on expanding the existing database as meaningfully as possible in order to make the topic of homelessness / housing exclusion statistically describable in its entirety. The typology ETHOS light (European Typology of Homelessness and Housing Exclusion) provides an analytical basis for the examination, which will then display the different data sources that are used to record the different types of homelessness. We will describe existing data sources, provide recommendations for the development of further data sources, and suggest any necessary additional surveys for each of the six categories of ETHOS light.
In the feasibility study, existing and potential data sources will be identified and evaluated in terms of their informative value and quality, and recommendations for the development of new data sets will be elaborated. The existing data sources will be assigned to the typology of ETHOS light and we will develop solution strategies for the collection of data on different groups of homeless people. We will furthermore explore the use of existing data sets, such as register data, data from public institutions, or data from NGOs, as well as their possible expansion and combination with new forms of data collection. The aim is to develop a data catalogue of existing data in a first step and to ascertain its quality at the federal, provincial and municipal level. In the further course of the research project, possibilities for expanding and supplementing the data sets will be worked out in interviews with stakeholders from the field of homelessness assistance, as well as from public institutions and NGOs. Finally, we will present a workshop to outline proposals for the Austria-wide implementation of a comprehensive survey of homelessness data and the institutional anchoring thereof. As a result of the project, we will offer recommendations for the design of an Austria-wide data collection project that maps the spectrum of homelessness and housing exclusion as comprehensively as possible and that provides a basis for political decision-making.
August 2023 – January 2024
This project is funded by the Austrian Ministry of Social Affairs.