Arona has introduced a “Housing First” programme to help the homeless in the municipality. It will work with those who have been homeless for at least three years and who have some disability or illness, seeking to provide them with some social integration and stability. The initiative is already in operation in some cities in Spain like Madrid and Barcelona, and appears to have reduced homelessness by around 30%, and to have integrated the formerly homeless so well that even five years later, more than 80% have settled in their new stable life.
Arona mayor José Julián Mena said that this is the first instance of Housing First being implemented in the Canaries, and that each person helped will receive a highly- or wholly-subsidized rented apartment, and assistance in weekly evaluation sessions to help them find work and improve the stability of their lives. The mayor said that both the Spanish Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights establish the right of everyone to a home, and added that often those who have nothing only have the public sector to save them. That is why, the mayor said, he was so proud that the programme in the Canaries was unveiled first in Arona, with the council absolutely committed to making it a success.
“Housing First” joins other local initiatives which have been implemented in the last couple of years, like the Social Emergency Mobile Unit formed by a health professional and volunteers who daily distribute a hot dinner, breakfast, hygiene products and clothes to the needy. Other successes include Social Services’ provision of a subsidised dining room, emergency accommodation, and specialist interventions for those in need of social housing.