Homelessness is on the rise in all EU countries except Finland, a recent study shows.
The report, “Third Overview of Housing Exclusion in Europe 2018”, states that Finland recorded a 10% drop in homelessness from 2013 to 2016.
Whilst putting an exact figure on the number of homeless in Europe is an impossible task, a variety of metrics used in different countries make it possible to compare homelessness in the region.
Finland excluded, the report, which is published by the European Federation of National Organisations Working with the Homeless (Feantsa) and the French Abbe Pierre Foundation, paints a dismal picture of homelessness in the EU. Germany, for example, has seen a 150% increase in homeless people from 2014 to 2017, while France has seen a 17% increase from 2016 to 2017.
In Ireland, 3,333 children were recorded homeless in November 2017, and in Spain, 16,437 people on average per day used emergency shelters in 2016.
Other statistics used by the report are less holistic, but just as indicative of a widespread problem. In Lithuania, 4569 people were recorded as living in temporary accommodation on one night in 2016, while in Hungary, that figure stood at over 10,000.
These facts and figures probably leave many homeless people unaccounted for, but they are enough to demonstrate, the report says, that politicians across the EU have demonstrated a “profound ignorance” towards the homelessness epidemic.
“This past year has resolutely confirmed the existence of another Europe: a Europe not merely ignored but also misunderstood, not just despised but also forgotten — a Europe of the homeless,” the report notes.
According to some commentators, Finland is likely to have coped better with the homelessness epidemic because it approaches homelessness in a completely different way to other EU countries. Whereas countries like the UK treat housing benefits for the homeless as something of a reward for good behaviour, Finland adopts a model called Housing First, which treats housing as a fundamental human right.