EESC opinion: Homelessness

Key points

The EESC makes the following recommendations:

  • The European Union should allocate more resources under the Structural Funds (ESF and ERDF in particular) to tackling the issue of homelessness, with a particular focus on building permanent housing.
  • The European Union and the Member States should bear in mind that policies to combat homelessness must be based on the right to affordable, adequate housing. The EESC believes that homelessness is not a pre-existing situation: it is the result of political and economic choices. The EU 2020 strategy's inclusive growth dimension must incorporate discussion on wealth redistribution.
  • Eurostat should promote common definitions, indices and indicators in order to help understand the complexity and specific characteristics of homelessness at EU level and to harmonise statistics. The EESC supports the adoption of the ETHOS typology launched by FEANTSA.
  • The European Commission should set up a European agency on homelessness.
  • The European Commission should develop an ambitious strategy on the issue of homelessness and support the Member States in developing effective national strategies.  A major housing policy in Europe would fall within the scope of the major work projects generating jobs and well-being, which continue to be two of the goals of the European treaties.
  • The EU should help Member States to take the following into account in their inclusion policies: eradicating deaths caused by living on the streets; personal dignity; multiple causality; prevention; empowering and encouraging participation by recipients through social contracts/tenancy agreements; European standards of cost-efficiency for housing and social services; building permanent housing, subsidised flats and prevention centres in every town; and an approach promoting swift access to permanent housing.
  • The question of homelessness must be made an integral part of the Open Method of Coordination in the social domain.
  • The EESC recommends disseminating innovative models and guides to good practice at national and European levels in which permanent housing and the necessary additional services are the first option.
  • The EESC suggests implementing integrated strategies which can be used to establish adequate and additional services in every domain corresponding to the panoply of recipients' needs, particularly social housing.
  • The EESC recommends that European policies and strategies be shaped together with organisations delivering social services, homeless people, public authorities and the scientific and research community.