Breadth, Drivers and Impact of Homelessness in Moldova - a research project (with Oak Foundation)

Project implemented bu Plural Forum from September 2016 to August 2017.

Project coordinator: Petru Negură


Summary
The proposed research aimed at describing the homeless people in Chisinau (Moldova), 1) living in the Centre for Hosting and Orientation of Homeless People (herein the Shelter) and 2) living on the streets or in precarious housing conditions. The statistical description had to be made according to the main relevant social categories: gender, age, education, professional status, work experience, prison detention, and others. Through a series of in-depth interviews, the research also aimed at assessing the homeless persons’ needs and rationale of using the public social services, especially those provided by the Shelter. The research also sought to assess the users’ experience and satisfaction of the services provided in the Shelter, but also of other available services (soup kitchens, emergency medical services, policing, etc.). The research looked to explore the needs that the Shelter and other service providers do not or not sufficiently address and that users would expect to fulfil in the foreseeable future. It proposed to thoroughly examine both structural and individual causes of the need or dependency (if any) for the Shelter’s services. The study also aimed to examine the preferences and rationale of the homeless persons who did not use the shelter’s services or did it once and did not want to access them anymore. The research sought thus to analyse the needs and aims of the ‘non-users’ in terms of short, medium, and long-term services.



Accomplishments
The research was carried out by collecting and analysing an extensive body of quantitative (socio-biographical data of 810 subjects) and qualitative data (interviews with 90 people: 70 homeless people and 20 professionals). The study relies also on an ethnographic analysis of the Centre for Homeless People in Chisinau (the only public service of its kind in the city). The paper analyses an opinion poll commissioned for this research on the perceptions of the population of the Republic of Moldova on homeless people. A separate section examines the legislation relevant to the issue of homelessness in Moldova. Finally, the working paper offers a set of recommendations for the stakeholders involved in addressing homelessness in Moldova.


Shortfalls
Overall, the study did more than initially proposed. In fact, the study does not have significant empirical, methodological or other shortfalls. However, in the future we would like to explore more in-depth other aspects of the lives of homeless people in Moldova: homeless people's access to health services, the social policies towards the homeless from the Soviet time until now, and the social visibility of the homeless in public urban space.

A learning experience
Throughout this project, we learned many important things about homeless people living in Moldova. First of all, we have discovered several paths to homelessness and risk factors. Some of these paths and factors are specific to Moldova and the region, such as those caused by the massive precariousness of the 1990s (after the collapse of the USSR). Secondly, we have discovered some factors of housing vulnerability that will increase the number of homeless people in the near future, unless addressed through systemic measures. The information collected and analysed in this research will help us to further articulate research questions focused on specific points of interest, such as access to health or public policy addressing homelessness.


Sharing knowledge
Based on this research we published some articles on certain web portals (esp. platzforma.md). In the near future (September 2018), we will present the results of this research to the Ministry of Labour, Social Protection and Health. We have made some presentations, both in Moldova and abroad, in which we synthesized the results of the research. At the same time, we prepare articles for publication in academic journals in English. Finally, a book will contain the full study.


Expected impact
Using the results of this research, disseminated through articles and public presentations, we will help the Ministry and non-profit organizations to initiate and implement evidence-based policies and services for homeless people in Moldova.


Total project budget: 30.000 (USD), from which about 40% were paid for taxes and social contributions in the Republic of Moldova.

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