European Parliament resolution on ending homelessness.

JS – 12/2020

In the last 10 years, the number of homeless people in the EU has increased by more than 70%. Present estimates put the number of homeless EU citizens over 4 million. This number is expected to increase as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. More people are becoming unemployed and dependent on social security systems.

On the 24th November 2020, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on reducing homeless rates in the EU by 2030. In this resolution, the Parliament advocates establishing a European framework for national strategies.

Parliament sees homelessness as being directly linked to the lack of access to healthcare, etc. many homeless people have no health insurance, nor do they seek help because of the stigma of homelessness - even more problematic in times of a pandemic.

A study by the European Social Policy Network (ESPN) carried out in 2019 indicates that the life expectancy of homeless people is 20 years lower than that of the rest of the population.

Reasons for the increase in homelessness

The Parliament identifies a combination of reasons for the rise in homelessness over the last decade: rising housing costs, the impact of the economic crisis, the reduction in social benefits and insufficient measures to tackle homelessness in many of the Member States.

However, the lack of measures does not save the public purse: according to the Parliament, as the social costs increase accordingly, especially in the areas of justice and health.

Social policy strategies to remedy the situation

The EU Parliament wants more social policies and measures at national and EU level: these should help Member States find ways to ensure equal access to public services such as healthcare, education and social services.

The European Parliament called on the European Commission and the Member States to implement the EPSR’s Principle 19 - "'Housing and assistance for the homeless” accordingly. The "Housing first" project aims to provide housing for homeless people without any conditions having to be met.

Professional and social integration methods will be developed once this basic need has been met. Homeless people should be given access to the labour market through employment, training and other programmes.

It also aims to develop a common homelessness definition and coherent indicators so as to better gauge the extent of homelessness in the EU.

It remains to be seen how this will be implemented at EU and national level in order to be able reach the 2030 target.