1. What is the Famvin Homeless Alliance?

The Famvin Homeless Alliance (FHA) was commissioned by the Heads of the Vincentian Family in 2017 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the birth of the Vincentian Charism.

Our vision is that everybody has a place to call home and a stake in their community. We focus our efforts on street homeless people, slum dwellers, refugees and internally displaced people.

Read more about us here.

2. Why do we exist?

The FHA was created to bring together the global Vincentian Family to provide practical help and encourage systemic change for the estimated 1.2 billion people in this world who are without a place to call home.

You can read more about what we want to achieve here.

3. What is the 13 Houses Campaign?

The 13 Houses Campaign is one of the tools of the FHA to work towards ending homelessness. The 13 Houses Campaign aims to improve and transform the lives of 10,000 people over the next 3-5 years in all of the 156 countries in which the Vincentian Family works.

You can find out more about the inspiration behind the 13 Houses Campaign here and how to get involved here.

4. How can I build 13 Houses in my community?

It all starts with an idea and the FHA is here to help you structure the process. Use our project development tool available here as a starting point. Also, talk to people in your community and think about how collaboration – both locally and globally – could help you to advance your idea.

At any stage you can contact the FHA to ask for advice and support. We are happy to link you up with experts, give you feedback on your project plan or help you to talk about your project idea on our social media platforms.

5. What are the steps of the 13 Houses application process?

If you have in mind a long-term project to help homeless people, no matter how big or small, you can contact the FHA Team at fha.info@famvin.org to discuss your idea. This first step will help you to get some feedback and set the main goals of your project. Once you define the outline of your project and we do an initial evaluation of its potential, we will send you an application form to be completed.

 Once completed, the FHA team will then review your application and guide you step-by-step with some questions to clarify your project and help you get the best support. See this stage as a ‘learning curve’ from both sides: don’t be scared by the number of questions; they are just a conversation to guarantee success in our efforts to transform people’s lives.

 Once the plan for the project is ready, the Project Coordinator will send it to the FHA assessment panel for its approval. At this point, some final additional information/questions might be requested. If your project is approved for funding, you will sign a grant agreement that specifies the amount of the grant (usually 50% or less of the project cost) and you will receive the necessary funds to start your project.

6. Does the 13 Houses Campaign concern the whole Vincentian Family or can each branch apply?

The 13 Houses Campaign wishes to increase collaboration within the Vincentian Family in the service of the homeless. Any branch can create a project and join the Campaign as an autonomous project (which means a project that is part of the Campaign, but does not receive financial support from FHA). However, if the intention is to request funding from the FHA, keep in mind that preference is always given to collaborative projects (more than one VF branch involved) whenever possible. When working together as a local VF, you combine knowledge, resources, expertise and funds for higher impact. Remember that collaboration does not mean that all branches are involved in the same way, but that each branch contributes in some way.

Note also that funding priority is given to one project per country since we are aiming at being present in the 156 countries in which the VF works. Exceptions include countries in which the VF branches are working in different geographical areas and cannot come together as one family (due to distance and logistics), and projects in the same country that address different types of homelessness.

7. Who are the ‘experts with lived experience’ of a 13-Houses project?

The term ‘experts with lived experience’ refers to people living on the streets or those at risk of homelessness, for example, slum dwellers, refugees, victims of human trafficking or internally displaced people. In the context of your 13 Houses project, they are the ‘active’ participants and beneficiaries. They should be involved in the decision-making process so that the project responds appropriately to their needs and leads them to live independent and dignified lives.

8. Does the “13 Houses” Campaign fund only projects aimed at the construction of houses?

The name of the “13 Houses” Campaign commemorates the moment when in 1643, Saint Vincent De Paul used the money offered by Louis XIII to build 13 small houses close to Saint-Lazare, the motherhouse of the Congregation of the Mission, to care for abandoned children. It was a collaborative initiative where the Daughters of Charity managed the houses and the Confraternities of Charity (today AIC) found the necessary funding. In this sense, the Campaign celebrates the Vincentian charism at the service of the poorest supporting any project that tackles homelessness.

You can present a project that addresses homelessness in different ways as long as it adopts a systemic change approach, meaning that the experts with lived experience can live independently and with dignity, and exit the cycle of poverty. Therefore we do not fund short-term projects such as emergency aid or provide money to buy food or medical supplies. Examples (but not limited to) of initiatives funded by the “13 Houses” Campaign are: housing projects; day centres; prevention services/training programmes; and setting up of small businesses with homeless people.

When submitting your project, always consider whether it has a long-term impact and if it is bringing something ‘new’ to the community and responding to its needs. Please note that we are unable to fund existing projects (for example, we cannot cover running costs for its maintenance).

The questions contained in the application form are there to guide you in this process; however, if you feel uncertain about the relevance of your project, please contact us. We are glad to help.

9.The Solidarity Fund covers just 50% of the total costs of the project; what if we don’t have enough funds?

We understand that fundraising is often a challenge. In this sense, it is important to explore different ways of collaboration, as contributions can be of different kinds. For example, by working with branches/trusted organizations on the ground you may be able to cover the costs of materials through donations or the costs of manpower by volunteers willing to help or work at a lower cost. In this sense, the 50% doesn’t necessarily have to be all money; however, all possible fundraising avenues should be studied and a collaboration scheme should be in place.

10. Can the “13 Houses” Campaign support more than one project in my country? What further support is available?

The Campaign has now reached its 5th year and its objective since 2018 is to transform the lives of people experiencing homelessness in all the countries (156) where the Vincentian Family works. As of today, the Campaign is present in 66 countries; for this reason, we are currently prioritizing new countries that are not yet part of this initiative, making sure each country with a Vincentian presence can benefit from this project. In case your country is already part of the Campaign, further support may still be available; we have a list of foundations and organizations that might be able to support you; therefore it is always worth asking as we may be able to point you in the right direction.

11. Can the Solidarity Fund be used to buy land?

Unfortunately, we are unable to support the purchase of land. As a general rule, for construction projects, the ownership must be secured beforehand and the land should belong to the beneficiaries of your project. This guarantees that the experts with lived experience can live there in the long term with no risk of being evicted (excluding external causes such as wars, displacement etc.), making sure no one else claims the right to the land. In some circumstances, the land can be purchased in the name of the branch. However, this varies case by case and it needs to be discussed beforehand, so we can make sure that the services provided will always address homelessness in the long-term.

12. Can the Solidarity Fund be used to buy a house?

We recognize that purchasing a house may be considered a solution in situations where acquiring land ownership proves challenging. However, it is crucial to note that such an approach should be treated as an exceptional circumstance and thoroughly discussed with FHA on a case-by-case basis.

13. What is the future of the “13 Houses” Campaign?

The FHA is an initiative of the Vincentian Family Executive Board; its future relies on them. The “13 Houses” Campaign was born in the context of the celebrations of the 400th anniversary of the Vincentian charism, with the mission of transforming the lives of 10,000 people experiencing homelessness worldwide in 3-5 years from 2018. As of November 2023, we have reached our initial objective (10,000 lives transformed) in 5 years. We are currently aiming to reach at least 100 of the 156 countries where the Vincentian Family is present.

14. What other ways are there to get involved?

There are many different ways in which you can get involved in the 13 Houses Campaign. Any help is greatly appreciated as we can only achieve our aims if we all come together. For example, you can help us by supporting the Solidarity Fund, by volunteering your expertise or by becoming an advocate for change. You can read more about how you can support us here and help us to end homelessness one house at a time.

15. How can I share my story?

The FHA is very proud of the amazing range of projects happening everyday across the entire Vincentian Family and would love to let the world know about what you do. If you want to tell people about a project you are currently managing or a project you are planning to do in the future, please do get in touch with us via homeless@famvin.org. We would be very happy to write about your work and publish it on our blog and social media.

16. Is there a newsletter?

Yes. A newsletter to update you on everything around the Famvin Homeless Alliance and 13 Houses Campaign is sent out twice a year. You can subscribe here.