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The Collective of SDFs in Lille: "the voice of the voiceless"

Summary : The collective of SDFs (Homeless) in Lille is taking action to complement social action. Since 2011, it has contributed to the reintegration of the homeless into society by implementing the concept of "peer support".

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  • Start date : 2011
  • Implementation site : Lille
  • Budget : N/A


  • Collectif des SDF de Lille
  • 48 rue de Valenciennes
  • 59000 Lille
  • Employees : 4
  • Volunteers : 10
  • Members : 100


Editorial committee

  • Date of proofreading :  04/06/2015 00:00
Opinion of the Committee : High impact ! Source of inspiration !
Solution(s) : Housing Social exclusion and isolation
Country :  France, Mayotte
Stature of the programme :  Local
Participant :  Association, ONG
  • Beneficiaries :  Bottom Of the Pyramid (BOP)
  • Domain :  Work, Health, Housing, Human rights

Reports collected as part of the RESOLIS programme « Poverty France » (Lille)

Copyright: Licence Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/ )
To reference a document published by RESOLIS : Cambay Arnaud , « The Collective of SDFs in Lille: "the voice of the voiceless" », **Journal RESOLIS** (2015)

Background to the programme

The Collective of Sans Domicile Fixe (Homeless) in Lille was created following the expulsion of 3 homeless people who were staying in an Accommodation and Social Reintegration Centre (CHRS) in Lille. This sense of injustice led to the creation of a movement to defend rights and duties in 2011. Since 2012, the movement has been organised as an association according to the 1901 law. Its first General Assembly was held in 2013.

Objectives of the programme

- Allow the social and professional reintegration of the homeless

- Guarantee access to housing for people on the street and support them in it

- Support the homeless in their access to rights

- Promote mutual support and (re)create social links

Implemented actions

- Unconditional welcome of anyone in a precarious situation in the Lille Metropolitan area. Adhesion to the association (€ 1) is requested. It is presented as a way to strengthen the sense of belonging to a group.

- The collective goes to meet people on the street to hear about their needs and/or direct them to the appropriate people. This process has enabled the creation of a "hygiene kit" based on the needs of the homeless as well as a map of Lille with all of the relevant organisations to know.

- It facilitates access to rights for the homeless: Housing Solidarity Fund (FSL), Enforceable Right to Housing (DALO) Support For Housing (APL) ...

- It carries out support in getting and staying in housing. It offers an alternative to the conventional rehousing procedure by first targeting private property.

- It presents itself as the "voice of the voiceless", notably through the creation of Councils for a Social Life (CVS), in accordance with the 2002-2 law.

Quantitative and qualitative results from the implemented actions

- In 3 years, 150 people have been rehoused in private property.

- The average length of the collective’s rehousing procedure is 1 month and 22 days, compared to 2 years and a half for the conventional procedure.

- Twenty private property owners have become "partners" and automatically contact the collective when housing is available. They even help their tenants with food and the job search.

- 2 certificates: "Social Engineering" and "Mediation and Adapted Housing Management "

- Extensive media coverage (Articles in le Monde, the local press ...)

Original characteristics

The collective has a bottom up approach. They are homeless people themselves who have organised and mobilised to come to the help of people who are in the same situation. It puts into practice the concept of "peer support", former homeless people who have learnt the process to support their peers.

Partnership(s) developed in the context of the programme

L’armée du Salut, University Hospital Centre (CHU), Prison and probation Service (SPIP), Baptist Association for Mutual Aid and Youth (ABEJ), Eole, Welcome Rehabilitation Education Promotion (CCA) (Cambrai) , Areli, Abbé Pierre Foundation, Magdala, Ozanam, SPIP in Lille CMAO, SIAO, ARIANE (Protection Agency) Lille City Council, Rotary, MEL (Lille European Metropole), FSL, Lille sports School 2, URIOPSS, FNARS


Difficulties and/or obstacles encountered during the programme’s implementation :

- Reluctance of owners to accommodate the homeless because of their prejudices attached to this type of public.

- The people encountered can suddenly abandon the support or make irregular appearances.

- Lack of recognition:

> The associations feel threatened and have the feeling they’re facing new competition.

> The grants received are insufficient to meet real needs

Suggestions for future improvement :

- In the next 5 years, the Collective envisages expanding its initiative to the national level, notably by starting in Marseille. In addition, the city of Cambrai is calling on the collective to set itself up there.

- It wants to organise meetings with associations in the region as well as the municipality and with representatives of state who are experts on the subject. It also plans to set up an "Inter-CVS."

- It wants to create training for former homeless people and compensate them as "experts with experience".

Summary of factors responsible for the programme’s success :

- Adopt the system of "peer support": people on the street are more willing to be assisted by former homeless people who have lived through similar situations. This also helps to better understand the needs of this public.

- Become credible in the eyes of property owners:

> Offer them people’s dossiers where all the administrative procedures have already been carried out (FSL application, APL ...).

> Ensure the proper payment of their rent each month through the regular monitoring of the newly rehoused people.

- Initially target privately owned housing before considering social housing.

- Do not move away from the main goal: go to meet people in the street.

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