The European Parliament wants to end homelessness in the EU by 2030 and although there are no official figures for homelessness in the EU, it is estimated there are some 700,000 people sleeping rough in Europe.
In a resolution adopted on 24 November, MEPs call on the EU and its member states to stop homelessness by 2030. They advocate an EU framework of national strategies and call on EU countries to decriminalise homelessness and continue to raise funding to tackle the problem.
Housing is a fundamental human right, Parliament notes, but every night more than 700,000 people are sleeping rough in Europe, an increase of 70% over the last 10 years.
The Covid-19-crisis puts homeless people at additional risk, as they disproportionally suffer poor health and lack access to hygiene and health care. With the current economic recession and jobs losses, homelessness rates could increase.
Homeless people are often targets of hate crimes and violence, including social stigmatisation. The profiles of Europe’s homeless population is changing, with more and more children, migrants, minorities, women and families on the streets.
The European Parliament calls on EU countries to provide equal access to public services such as health care, education and social services; to support the integration of homeless people into the labour market via employment programmes, training and tailored schemes; to provide constant access to emergency shelters as a last resort (in addition to prevention and support measures); and to work on a common definition, improved data collection and coherent indicators to be able to better understand and assess the extent of the problem. Additionally, Parliament calls on EU countries to adopt the principle of “housing firs”’, already successfully introduced by several countries. Contrary to more ‘traditional’ approaches, the “housing first” model seeks to move homeless people into permanent housing as quickly as possible before addressing other issues.
Despite substantial differences between EU countries, the lack of affordable housing is a growing problem, with house prices rising by 5.2% in the EU in the second quarter of 2020 compared to the same quarter of 2019.
This is a problem for low-income owners or renters: In 2018, almost 38% of households at risk of poverty spent more than 40% of their disposable income on housing, compared to 10.2% of the general EU population.
Parliament is also working on proposals for decent, affordable housing and inclusive housing markets.
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