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Urban Suffering Studies Center



The communitarian model of FundaciĆ²n

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Felipe Gross Dempster


Fundación Rostros Nuevos ("Rostros Nuevos" or the "Foundation") is a non-profit private organization subsidiary of Hogar de Cristo, one of the most important Latin American NGOs that strives for the final overcoming of poverty.

Rostros Nuevos was founded in Chile in the middle of the 1990s in response to the need of helping homeless people with mental disability that came to sleep at Hogar de Cristo's hostels. Because of their mental condition these people required specialized and integral assistance.

With over 15 years of history, Rostros Nuevos currently takes in 530 adults with physical and mental disability living in extreme poverty and social exclusion ("users"). Rostros Nuevos fosters the personal development of its users through a comprehensive intervention in community spaces. It facilitates the social connection, participation and integration of its users. Likewise, Rostros Nuevos creates within the community awareness, commitment and co-responsibility towards this social reality so as to build up an inclusive and supportive country.

Rostros Nuevos began with two long-stay hostels which evolved into Community Support Programs in parallel to the reform of mental health in Chile. From then on, approximately one thousand homeless people have benefited from the programs run by Rostros Nuevos. As a result, these people have recovered their human dignity, their ability to recognize themselves as persons and to love and establish relationships with others.

Through six types of intervention and ten social programs, Rostros Nuevos gives its users housing support, occupational therapy, connection with social networks in welfare and health, spiritual advice, and connection with their families and the community. Rostros Nuevos focuses on the biological, psychic, social and spiritual dimensions of its users. The process of construction of society is rooted in the rights of its users, family and community.

The 530 people currently taken in by Rostros Nuevos have been able to overcome their homeless condition. Nowadays the users form part of the community, enter relationships with their neighbors and progressively exercise their citizen rights, with access to education and to work.

Rostros Nuevos has performed an advocacy role in areas concerning the inclusion and the rights of people with mental disability both in society and in the State. Rostros Nuevos promotes the consideration of these people and their acknowledgment as persons, right-holders rather than subjects of charity.

Rostros Nuevos has a close relationship of co-operation with the State. Moreover part of the services offered by Rostros Nuevos through its programs, is contracted by the departments dependent on the Health Ministry and the Planning Ministry, amounting to around 30% of their income. The remaining income is composed of monthly donations made by natural persons, companies, benefactors and from the own business of Rostros Nuevos, thereby securing a stable and regular income.

That is to say, that for each monetary unit the State gives, the whole of society gives another two, which results in an interesting leverage of the fiscal resources worth repeating both in this social area as in others where non government institutions are willing to get involved.

The Foundation counts with two Long Stay Homes, a Transitory Residential Program that gives shelter to women with mental incapacity in a street condition (homeless, or in risk of becoming such) whom are offered a provisional home solution while they are treated by professional and technical team for them to take up their social and family ties or else derived to another unit.
Rostros Nuevos counts with 8 Protected Homes, which are houses located in residential neighborhoods where 12 people with 24 hour supervision by a technical team live; with 15 Family Homes which are also located in residential neighborhoods, where 6 users live autonomously, supervised daily by a tutor.

Likewise, Rostros Nuevos offers economical and material support to around 21 persons who live independently or with their families.
In relation to ambulatory assistance models, Rostros Nuevos counts with 5 Day Centers which shelter people who attend daily diverse activities and workshops aimed to their socio-therapeutic rehabilitation.

The Labor Rehabilitation Centre allows its users to acquire working habits and abilities through protected and semi protected workshops, with the purpose of accessing a job either within the institution or in an external enterprise. These workshops seek to attain the principle that "work understood as a social insertion can promote a process of articulate interests, needs and desires".

The Family Support Program gives psycho-social support to families which have among their members someone with a psychic or intellectual diagnosis living with them, thus avoiding hospitalization and the breaking of emotional bonds.

The Mental and Psychiatric Communitarian Program is integrated by a multidisciplinary team of professionals and technicians who deal with the people who come to sleep at the Hogar de Cristo's hostels, who they diagnose, advice and link them to social networks. It is an assertive communitarian program that takes its action into the streets.

The Program Includes: Mental Incapacity and Street considers training the psychosocial teams pertaining to the institutions which execute programs in an assertive-communitarian methodology applied to mental health. The goal is to guide them, give them company and provide the means, for the people with mental incapacity, in a street condition, to be diagnosed, able to accede to specialized attention, to pharmacological treatments and to mechanisms of therapeutic rehabilitation in coordination with the family and social nets.

The action of Rostros Nuevos Foundation is increasingly focused on the work of advocacy, aiming to have influence in generating and perfecting public policies to facilitate the inclusion of persons with different capacities and also in the behavior of society, as a necessary condition to attain this objective.

We are aware that the value of Rostros Nuevos' experience acquires more meaning in the degree that its models of intervention be copied in a large scale in order to generate a major impact on the population of more than 61.000 persons who are excluded from our society.



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The study centre wishes to study the phenomenon of urban suffering, in other words the suffering that is specific to the great metropolises. Urban Suffering is a category that describes the meeting of individual suffering with the social fabric that they inhabit. The description, the understanding and the transformation of the psychological and social dynamics that develop from the meeting of ...

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Last update: 20/04/2019

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