Interview with Abbassia Hakem, Deputy Mayor in charge of Solidarity and inclusion
Why did your City decide to apply under Urban Innovative Actions?
The Urban Innovative Actions - urban poverty theme immediately echoed with the City of Nantes political project that promotes a City which is open, active, more just and solidary ; an easy and sustainable City for all. Furthermore, this theme also fits among the three big goals of the City’s metropolitan policy: consolidate the economic development and the attractiveness of the metropolitan authority in employment, consolidating the development and the sustainable urban planning of the territory, be a reference metropolitan authority committed in the ecological and energy transition.
This cycle matches the large structural projects and the more daily projects.
The organized governance is based on exemplarity, transparency and the co-construction.
The 5Bridges project, managed by an NGO and supported by the City of Nantes, other local authorities and the Government’s departments, created a partnership that met the requirements of the UIA Initiative. The support of the UIA constitute a real added value to give to this very innovative urban project all the chances of success.
Your City has a long experience of working on homelessness at EU level. How did you use the best practices out there to find your innovative solution?
In January, 2013, while the project was still in its definition phase, the City of Nantes and the NGO Les Eaux Vives organized a study visit in Belgium and the Netherlands. Five projects that contributed to the 5Bridges model were visited. A federative and inspiring journey which allowed to verify what was possible or not, to revitalize the project and to accelerate its co-construction.
What do you consider to be the most innovative element of your project towards the fight against urban poverty?
Exclusion linked to precariousness implies multiple and complex situations which requires new answers and to innovate. The 5Bridges project has been built in dialogue with the partners and on the basis of the choices of the users of the NGO Les Eaux Vives, in the goal of tackling the major factors (of the urban poverty and their interconnection. Three strong innovative axes stand out:
- Integrating comprehensive, multiple and tailored support services (providing work opportunities solidarity based housing, low threshold health care...)
- Locating the social building in a new central multifunctional district
- Opening the project to the people living/working in the area through neighbourhood dialogue and involvement of civil society
What are the main changes that you expect to achieve in your municipality with this project?
The creation of the 5Bridges’ building and the way of functioning of the new shelter in prospect will allow to change the perceptions on poverty, to favour the solidarity between populations, to multiply the solutions of " positive exits " for the people living precarious situation and finally to decrease poverty. The 5Bridges project will also allow to diversify the range of social and inclusion services within the City, in particular with the continuous opening of the complex, 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.
After six months of implementation, can you tell us where you are with the project and what are the main challenges you expect to be confronted to?
The first months were dedicated to the implementation of the experiments and the tools which will allow the NGO to anticipate the opening of the building at the end of 2019 in the best conditions. An audit on the urban farm model has also been produced to allow to integrate this innovative component in the 5Bridges project, staying as closely as possible to the expected objectives while watching the financial balance of this component of the project.
The challenges to come concern the co-construction. The cohesion of the multi-partnership relations stays at the centre of the final success of the project. For that purpose, the UIA is the real capital gain because the European device gives both sense and resources to ensure the defined goals.