Homelessness is a serious problem that has been aggravated by the economic crisis and on 14 September MEPs called for more action at the European level. "Homelessness is the worst form of social exclusion," said French Socialist Pervenche Berès, one of the co-authors of a resolution, which calls for action on fighting and preventing homelessness to be speeded up.
The EP adopted a written declaration calling for an EU homelessness strategy in December 2010 and on 13 September Ms Berès and co-author of the resolution French Green Karima Delli asked the European Commission what action it has taken. "The time has come for governments to face their responsibilities. Our first duty is to protect the most vulnerable people," Ms Delli said.
Social affairs and inclusion commissioner László Andor said that homelessness is mainly the responsibility of member states and that the EU can only assist them but during the discussion he outlined the response to the EP's demands.
On ending street homelessness by 2015, he said the European Social Fund is being used to help reintegrate homeless people into the labour market.
As part of Europe 2020 - the Commission's growth strategy which includes the fight against poverty and social exclusion it is developing an ambitious EU homelessness strategy. It is up to EU countries to come up with national plans, although the EU can help them find strategies, Mr Andor said.
He also said that assisting homeless people living in emergency/transitional accommodation in finding housing is a national responsibility but noted that the European Regional Development Fund is being used to provide social housing.
In addition, the Commission has just commissioned new studies collecting EU homelessness data.
most at risk: young people, immigrants, women, working poor
homeless live in tents, cars, shelters, temporary housing, hostels, cardboard boxes
homelessness connected to real estate speculation, leads to social exclusion