- 70% increase in homelessness in the EU over past 10 years
- Homelessness is one of the most severe forms of poverty, caused by a combination of structural, institutional, and personal factors
- Members states should decriminalise homelessness and provide equal access to public services such as health care, education, and social services
On Tuesday, Parliament approved a series of recommendations to combat homelessness and end housing exclusion in the EU.
In the resolution adopted with 647 votes in favour, 13 against and 32 abstentions, Parliament highlights the precarious living situation of over 700,000 persons who face homelessness each night in Europe, a 70% increase over a decade. It stresses that housing is a fundamental human right and calls for stronger action from the Commission and member states to end homelessness in the EU by 2030.
More measures needed at both EU and national level
To put an end to homelessness, the European Commission should support member states, improve monitoring, continue to provide funding, and present an EU Framework for National Homelessness Strategies. Member states should also adopt the principle of Housing First, which helps reduce homelessness significantly by introducing action plans and innovative approaches based on the concept of a home being a fundamental human right.
Supporting and reintegrating homeless people
The text sets out a series of recommendations for member states, including:
- taking responsibility in tackling homelessness and working on prevention and early intervention;
- exchanging best practices with other member states;
- decriminalising homelessness;
- providing equal access to public services such as health care, education, and social services;
- supporting integration into the labour market through specialised assistance, training, and targeted schemes;
- improving measures to gather relevant and comparable data to help assess the extent of homelessness;
- providing financial assistance to NGOs and supporting local authorities to secure safe spaces for those who are homeless and preventing evictions, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic;
- implementing long-term, community-based, housing-led, integrated national homelessness strategies;
- providing constant access to emergency shelters, as a temporary solution;
- promoting social entrepreneurship and activities that foster active inclusion.
Finally, Parliament calls on the Commission and member states to use instruments available under the long-term EU budget (2021-2027) and the Recovery and Resilience Facility to improve employment opportunities and social integration for jobless households.
The Committee on Petitions has received multiple petitions drawing attention to the massive spike in homelessness in the European Union brought about by higher housing costs, economic crises, reduced social protection, and inadequate policies.
Reports on how the COVID-19 crisis has affected the affordability of housing in the EU indicate that economic recession and loss of jobs and income may further increase housing costs and homelessness rates in Europe. While housing policy does not fall under the EU’s jurisdiction, it can affect housing conditions indirectly through regulations (e.g. state aid rules, fiscal law and competition law) and measures, notably recommendations and guidelines.