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.
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
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.