Policy papers

Access to affordable and social housing and support to homeless people

24 November 2020

Housing and assistance for the homeless is part of principle 19 of the European Pillar of Social Rights. In particular, the Pillar establishes:

a. Access to social housing or housing assistance of good
quality shall be provided for those in need.
b. Vulnerable people have the right to appropriate assistance
and protection against forced eviction.
c. Adequate shelter and services shall be provided to the
homeless to promote their social inclusion.

City authorities are turning these social rights into a reality for people. Cities can ensure access to social housing, shelter and services for vulnerable groups, however dealing with these complex challenges requires the cooperation of many other stakeholders. As our report shows, most cities share competences for social housing and homeless services with other levels of government, while the increasing trends of homelessness and housing prices depends on the national and even global socio-economic context.

This report is the third in a series of surveys to collect evidence from cities on the implementation of the principles of the European Pillar of Social Rights. All the research was undertaken prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and at a time when affordable and social housing were among the most pressing issues at local level. The pandemic has highlighted the pre-existing challenges that Europe was facing in terms of shortcomings on housing policies while creating further difficulties for vulnerable groups and households that were already facing overburdening housing costs. The issues raised in the report will however remain valid and can provide valuable insights for the policies to be implemented in 2021-2027.

This report, covering 24 cities in 14 EU member states, presents the findings on how cities provide access to social housing and promote social inclusion of homeless people, in line with principle 19 of the European Pillar of Social Rights. It provides:

  • an overview of city competences,
  • trends at local level,
  • common approaches and recent innovative measures,
  • obstacles that prevent cities from doing more or doing better.

Policy recommendations are also presented to inspire future policy interventions and stimulate debate.