The year 2015 has become a reference point for all the social organizations and government authorities that work with the homeless. Why? The European Parliament has made the commitment that, upon the appointed date, no one in the European Union will be living on the street.
This milestone was set in 2008 when five members of the European Parliament invited their colleagues to introduce a debate about the end of homelessness in the EU by the year 2015. As a result, organizations across Europe mobilized to pressure the members of Parliament to support the proposal. They asked the European Council to acknowledge and become involved with the homeless, and anticipate policy decisions.
For the initiative to be successful, the support of at least 393 of the 785 members of the European Parliament was needed. In the end, 438 members of the European Parliament, representing different countries and backgrounds, signed a declaration to introduce the issue of street homelessness as matter of importance for the European political agenda. The message was very clear: 2015 would be the year that the 18 million people in Europe that do not have stable housing – 2.5 million of whom sleep on the street on in emergency shelters – would have dignified homes.
The following are some of the requests made by the members in their declaration:
Acknowledge the diverse realities of homeless people and establish common criteria for working on the issue;
Obtain comparable and trustworthy annual statistics that indicate the actions and progress of each member state;
Include emergency winter plans as a part of a larger strategy to tackle the phenomenon of homelessness
“Street homelessness is the most visible form of the problem, which can only be tackled with a broader strategy,” affirmed the members. The members of the European Parliament also requested that policies for combating poverty and social exclusion bear in mind the fundamental right to shelter. Further information: Declaration of the European Parliament on ending street homelessness (Tuesday, April 22, 2008). Text available at EnRedPSH in PDF format.