At least 895,000 people are living on the streets in the European Union (EU) and the United Kingdom, a number higher than in 2019, according to an estimate by the European Federation of Associations Working with the Homeless (Feantsa) released on Tuesday.
“This estimate, based on partial data and only considering the most visible forms of housing exclusion, demonstrates the inability of European countries to make housing a fundamental right,” says the report, which was co-authored with the Abbé Foundation Pierre of France.
To determine the number, the authors examined the censuses of homeless people conducted by each country, although not all states do.
By summing up the censuses of the 13 countries for which they had reasonably reliable and comparable data, they concluded that 0.174% of Europe’s population was living on the streets or in shelters.
In relation to the total population of the EU and the UK, this would correspond to around 895,000 homeless people in the 28 countries.
That’s nearly 200,000 more than in 2019, the last year Feantsa made that estimate.
“This calculation gives a rough idea of the minimal extent of the phenomenon, but in no way constitutes a method to determine the actual number of homeless and people without adequate housing in Europe,” the authors warned.
In some of the countries studied, the number of homeless people has decreased, for example in Finland, which invests heavily in housing and applies the “Housing First” principle, which consists of providing residents with permanent housing as soon as possible on the street.
In Austria, where this principle also applies, the number of homeless people has also decreased in the last available year, 2020, but this could possibly be due to the measures taken during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as the suspension of evictions, they say. the authors.
“All Member States urgently need to design and implement national strategies to put an end to this phenomenon,” said Feantsa, who called on the European Commission to strengthen its platform to fight homelessness.