Proefwonen voor mensen met een verstandelijke beperking en/of psychiatrische problemen




Trying to live independently: social rented housing with support for vulnerable target groups
In October 2010, the Flemish Ministers for Welfare and for Housing launched a joint call for experimental projects to improve cooperation between social care services and social rented housing providers. The selected projects were also encouraged to explore legal barriers.

The “Proefwonen” project aimed to provide a solution to several difficulties that can stand in the way of successful cooperation between welfare and social renting services: (1) waiting lists for social housing services, which can prevent the smooth transition of a person with intellectual and/or psychological problems into a residential setting and an independent life with support in situations where the right timing is crucial; (2) there are few options for “trying out” independent living and taking a step back if necessary, two conditions for de-institutionalization; and (3) social rented housing providers have to work with vulnerable clients, but do not have the means to support them. In some cases, this may even lead to eviction.

The “Proefwonen” project aims to facilitate access to social renting for two vulnerable groups - people with mild to moderate intellectual disabilities/learning difficulties and/or people with mental health issues - by providing a solution to the difficulties described above, which prevent many of these service users from living independently.

Through closer collaboration and regular meetings between providers of housing and social services, the project aims to facilitate the transition and prevent evictions. The objective is to achieve structural cooperation and to lay a basis for mutual trust. Consensus and careful deliberation between the partners are essential to work towards community care and deinstitutionalization.

In the project, social care service users can apply for social rented housing in combination with mobile support. The intention of the project is that tenants can eventually live independently after two years, without or with limited support.

The project steering group developed a model to organize the collaboration between the partners involved. This model included several aspects, such as a selection procedure for potential tenants, a procedure to match the candidates to the available apartments, and a description of the commitments of the different partners.

Flanders has a decentralized and therefore localized social housing policy. Each year, local authorities set aside a certain percentage of their housing capacity for the target group. The social housing provider informs the welfare partners when a house is available for the project.  It sends them information on the characteristics of the home and the living environment. After exploring the client’s housing and support needs, the care provider can nominate the client for the project. The matching process is performed through consensus by a local, inter-sectoral steering committee. Accepting support is a requirement for participation in the programme.

One of the key features of the project is that it can enable people with mild to moderate intellectual disabilities/learning difficulties and/or mental health problems to move from residential care to independent living. Instead of having to register on the regular waiting list, the client can apply for fast-track access. The project’s inter-sectoral steering committee meets every two months, and takes other factors into account when matching the available homes to candidate-tenants, such as the most suitable timeframe for the future tenant and the way in which the available home and support can contribute to successful independent living.

Facts on output

  1. By May 2015, 28 candidate-tenants had entered the programme over a period of three years. Of a total of approximately 450 local allocations during the same period, this number constitutes more than 5% of the total capacity that is reserved for two vulnerable target groups.
  2. The project successfully brought together two target groups that had been regarded as separate (with an intellectual disability and/or mental health problems) and was able to apply the same criteria to both groups.
  3. Practice-based research was conducted to support the project. Two lecturer-researchers (working 20% FTE) facilitated local change and reported to governmental administration.
  4. Eleven of the participants were interviewed about their experiences. All the tenants, without exception, evaluated their new living environment positively.
  5. Two articles in professional journals will hopefully help further the dissemination of “good practice”.

Facts on outcomes, impact and effectiveness

  1. All participants in the project were able to live independently and continue to do so. Four of them were able to discontinue their use of support services, either after a move to a different place or after a positive evaluation. Most of the participants still receive support, but for those clients where the prospects are good, reduction in the level of support received can begin.
  2. Most applicants were clients who could leave their collective housing facilities.
  3. Some of the applicants previously lived in privately rented housing and were unable to afford the rent, thus risking homelessness.
  4. What was striking in the testimonials of the participants was that they were all very positive about the effect of living independently. Many of them expressed that they found it more peaceful.
  5. Mental health services report a new dynamic, namely a greater movement of clients receiving their support, and less waiting time on their own waiting lists.


Proefwonen voor mensen met een verstandelijke beperking en/of psychiatrische problemen
In oktober 2010 lanceerden de Vlaamse ministers Van den Bossche en Vandeurzen een oproep voor het indienen van experimentele projecten “wonen-welzijn”. Een nauwere samenwerking tussen woon- en welzijnsactoren diende voor de ministers centraal te staan. Niet alleen om de kloof tussen het zorgaanbod en het zelfstandig wonen in de sociale huisvesting te dichten, maar ook om de toegang tot de sociale huisvesting voor bepaalde kwetsbare doelgroepen te faciliteren. Zo kan immers het sociale grondrecht op wonen gerealiseerd worden. Vanuit de vaststelling dat sommige samenwerkingsprojecten moeilijk te realiseren zijn binnen de bestaande regelgeving, kregen de geselecteerde projecten de mogelijkheid om te opereren binnen een regelluw kader. Het doel was om de knelpunten en obstakels in de samenwerking tussen beide beleidsdomeinen te signaleren en na te gaan of de regelgeving in de toekomst aangepast moet worden. 

Het project “(Proef)wonen met ondersteuning” uit Halle waarover we hier rapporteren is één van de elf geselecteerde experimenten. Dit project trachtte de doorstroom van twee specifieke kwetsbare doelgroepen naar sociale huisvesting te bevorderen, namelijk: personen met een verstandelijke beperking en psychiatrische patiënten. Zie ook Folens (2013) voor een gelijkaardig project in Midden-West-Vlaanderen.


Independent livingsocial housinginclusiondisabilitymental health servicesZelfstandig wonensociale huisvestinginclusiepersonen met een handicapgeestelijke gezondheidszorg
  • Year: 2015
  • Volume: 24 Issue: 3
  • Page/Article: 43-62
  • DOI: 10.18352/jsi.455
  • Published on 29 Sep 2015
  • Peer Reviewed