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Ireland signs Lisbon Declaration on Combatting Homelessness

On Monday, the 21st of June, various EU institutions across civil society alongside local and regional authorities came together to launch the European Platform on Combatting Homelessness and to sign a joint declaration to commit to ending homelessness by 2030. By way of this declaration, member states are making a commitment to reducing and combatting homelessness by 2030 and by expressing the joint commitment of EU Member States, across the highest political level to reducing inequalities, defending fair wages, fighting social exclusion and tackling poverty.

The declaration notes that:

  • The Primary responsibility for tackling homelessness lies with the Member States and their regional or local authorities.
  • The European Parliament has called upon the European Commission in numerous reports and resolutions to develop a new policy coordination initiative on homelessness.
  • The 2030 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 1 and 11 call for ending extreme poverty including homelessness, everywhere and ensuring access for all to adequate, safe and affordable housing.
  • Article 3 of the Treaty on European Union mandates the Union to combat social exclusion and promote economic, social and territorial cohesion.
  • Principle 19 of the European Pillar of Social Rights stresses the need for social housing or housing assistance of good quality for those in need, the right to appropriate assistance and protection against forced eviction for vulnerable people and adequate shelter and services for people experiencing homelessness.
  • The 2021-2027 Multiannual Financial Framework and the next Generation EU recovery instrument create scope for investment to tackle homelessness.

The declaration acknowledges that:

  • Homelessness is one of the most extreme forms of social exclusion, negatively affecting people’s physical and mental health, well being, and quality of life, as well as their access to employment and access to other economic and social services.
  • The phenomenon of homelessness affects all Member states and has increased substantially over the last decade in the EU.
  • Addressing homelessness requires an understanding of how different groups in communities are impacted, including children, youth, women, single parents and large families, older persons, migrants, ethnic minorities and other vulnerable groups.
  • Reliable data collection on homelessness is important, including youth homelessness, with the involvement of relevant stakeholders, allowing common understanding, systematic comparison and monitoring at EU level.
  • The Covid-19 pandemic has heightened the urgency of effective action to solve homelessness.
  • There is growing evidence about effective interventions to prevent and solve homelessness, such as housing led approach.
  • There is a need for European policy support and coordination to promote progress, notably through mutual learning and support to collaboration.
  • There are complex root causes of homelessness, which include rising housing costs, insufficient supply of social housing stock or housing assistance, low income and precarious jobs, job loss, ageing and family breakdown, discrimination, long-term health problems and insufficiently prepared release from institutional settings.
  • Housing affordability is important for vulnerable groups as are social protection policies for guaranteeing a decent life and the role of the social economy and social services providers to address and prevent homelessness.

The European Platform on Combatting Homelessness agrees to work towards the ending of homelessness by 2030 so that:

  • No one sleeps rough for lack of accessible, safe and appropriate emergency accommodation
  • No one lives in emergency or transitional accommodation longer than is required for successful move on to a permanent housing solution.
  • No one is discharged from any institution (e.g. prison, hospital, care facility) without an offer of appropriate housing.
  • Evictions should be prevented whenever possible and no one is evicted without assistance for an appropriate housing solution, when needed.
  • No one is discriminated against due to their homelessness status.

The European Platform on Combatting Homelessness will promote policies based on a person centred, housing led and integrated approach that will:

  • Support mutual learning for policy makers and practitioners.
  • Contribute to harness EU funding possibilities
  • Strengthen evidence and monitoring on homelessness.
  • Disseminate and promote good practices.
  • Review progress towards the eradication of homelessness by 2030.

The European Commission will:

  • Support monitoring of homelessness, through the European Semester process and the Social Protection Committee, with a view to provide quantitative and qualitative assessment of progress made.
  • Support mutual learning of good practices for combatting homelessness and explore further the implementation of successful existing models.
  • Promote the use of EU funding to support inclusive policy measures aiming at combatting homelessness.
  • Strengthen analytical work and data collection in order to promote evidence based policies and initiatives addressing homelessness.

The European Parliament will:

  • Take an active part in and host meetings of the European Platform on Combatting Homelessness.
  • Promote and support policies aiming at reducing poverty, especially among children and ending homelessness by 2030 and therefore, building on the actions announced in the European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan, continue to work towards comprehensive European anti-poverty policies, pursuing the UN SDGs and helping achieve the EU 2030 headline poverty target.
  • Continue closely following the evaluation of the use of relevant EU funding to address the problem and root causes of homelessness in the Union.

The National, Regional and Local Authorities will:

  • Promote the prevention of homelessness, access to permanent housing and the provision of enabling support services to the homeless.
  • Welcome the involvement of all relevant stakeholders in the design and implementation of these policy measures.
  • Support our policy measures with adequate funding and, when appropriate, make use of EU funding as a lever to improve the way we address homelessness.
  • Share our good practices in combatting homelessness.

EU level civil society organisations and social partners will:

  • Actively engage our members in the activities of the European Platform on Combatting Homelessness.
  • Continue to support our members in their efforts to combat homelessness.
  • Facilitate mutual learning and develop evidence on the best ways to end homelessness.

The Declaration invites the rotating Presidencies of the Council to:

  • Convene at least biennial high level meetings of the European Platform on Combatting Homelessness.
  • Support efforts of all stakeholders, including non-governmental organisations to combat homelessness.

In Ireland, ending homelessness by 2030 will require cross departmental investment and clear policy direction. The Government’s new housing strategy must deliver safe, affordable, secure, sustainable, appropriate housing for all. In order to achieve this goal, Social Justice Ireland makes the following proposals in our 10 Point Plan to Deliver Housing for All that can be read HERE.