The high level of homelessness in the European Union is an unacceptable reality.
The non-governmental organisation ‘Klimaka’, which is active in Greece, cannot say exactly how many people are living on the street or in inadequate housing conditions, but sets the number at around 20 000. In any case, it is a fact that the number of homeless has increased by 20-25 % since last year, as a result of attempts to reduce the budget deficit.
Despite the widespread perception that the homeless are mostly on the margins of society, the economic crisis seems to be creating a new class of homeless people, aged 28 to 50, who had a good standard of living in the past but suddenly found themselves on the street, and it is not uncommon to see cases of families, and also pensioners and wage-earners, who have suffered considerable reductions in their income. Although the highest level of homelessness is seen in Athens, the phenomenon is spreading to Thessaloniki, Patras, Crete and other Greek cities.
We see people in a similar plight in all large European cities. They are usually on the street because of the inadequate insurance provided — or not provided — by a failed social welfare system, combined with an unstable, fluctuating economy.
In view of the crisis, the action taken by the Commission must be intensified, and the specific parameters of the Member States must be taken into account so that a targeted effort can be made. Characteristically, in Slovakia, Romania and Hungary the majority of homeless people belong to specific minorities, while in the United Kingdom homelessness is due to non-integration into appropriate social models. In Greece, most philanthropic work is undertaken by the church.
1. Does the Commission intend to issue a new action plan with innovative ideas for sustainable management of the problem, not at philanthropic level but in concrete terms, e.g. with the creation of special housing and employment centres?
2. On what policies is it advisable to work with the Member States and with non-government bodies to address the problem?