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Homelessness and Housing Rights in the Context of the Crisis 11th European Meeting of People Experiencing Poverty

[EAPN, Brussels, 11 May 2012] On 10-11 May 2012 the 11th European Meeting of People Experiencing Poverty addressed the
question of Homelessness and Housing Rights in the Context of the Crisis.

The meeting brought together over 150 people with personal experience of poverty and homelessness from
30 European countries. The Meeting was an occasion for an exchange of views and experiences on how to
ensure that people experiencing poverty can have access to adequate, affordable and energy efficient
housing and accommodation.
On behalf of the Danish Presidency of the Council of the European Union, Deputy Permanent Secretary for
Social Affairs and Integration, Jesper Brask Fischer, opened the 11th European Meeting of People
Experiencing Poverty. Mr Fischer stated that during the current economic crisis, the most vulnerable groups
in our societies face some of the toughest consequences. The Danish Presidency therefore welcomed the
opportunity to have a debate on homelessness and housing rights with people experiencing poverty or
homelessness. Only homeless people know how it feels to be homeless – or what kind of help homeless
people need. They are the experts on their own lives.

László Andor Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion emphasized that it is an
important meeting at a very critical time because today is not a usual situation. Elections recently show that
Europe has to change course and cannot go on with this austerity policy. We have to find a smarter way for
fiscal consolidation. This is the time to say it loud: your red card has to be shown to all involved. We have an
EU2020 target to fight poverty that we collectively need to comply with. The European reality is increasingly
diverse and divided. There are even parts where performance on employment and social protection has
been improving. But also because of demographic trends, economic growth will not return as in the past. We
have a deficit of solidarity and we need to restore it at the European level.

As concerns combating homelessness, what we do is identifying the causes, recognise best practices and
spread innovative approaches like the Housing First. For the future financial period of 2012-2020, the
Commission has proposed that at least 20% of the total European Social Fund financing in each Member
State should be allocated for social inclusion. In terms of field of intervention, it is housing, healthcare,
human rights aspects, taking action against criminalization of homelessness in the Member States.
Homelessness is also addressed through other antipoverty initiatives such as the Roma integration
framework or the upcoming Recommendation on child poverty.

On behalf of the delegations of people experiencing poverty, Sabrina Emilio, from the Italian delegation
gave a strong message “that it is time that the EU leaders follow up their fine words about fighting poverty
with concrete actions”. To reinforce this message the delegations showed a red card to the representatives
of the EU Institutions to say that they have had enough of the measures to combat the economic crisis that
are only creating more poverty and social exclusion. Ms Emilio concluded by saying “that the future of
Europe depends on the EU leaders hearing this message and developing a real EU Inclusion Strategy that
has meaningful actions at local, national and European levels ensuring access to housing and the financial
means to live a dignified life for all Europeans”.

During the conference, the delegates debated and exchanged views with EU and national decision-makers
focusing on three key questions:

  • In relation to homelessness and housing rights what are the key differences that can be seen in
    2012 as compared to 2008?
  • From the experience of the delegates and the preparation work for the meeting what are the ‘good
    and bad practices’ in relation to addressing homelessness and housing rights that have been
  • How can policies be designed to best address homelessness and housing in a way that is adapted
    to the different needs and realities of different individuals and communities and can ensure equality
    in access to homeless services and housing rights?

The 11th European Meeting of People Experiencing Poverty was organised by the Danish Presidency of the
Council of the European Union and The European Commission, with the assistance of the EAPN and
FEANTSA and hosted in The Egmont Palace courtesy of the Belgian Government.

  • Webstreaming: The video from the conference can be found here:
  • For further information please visit:
  • For Press Contacts:
    • Danish Presidency: Dorte Bech Vizard, Head of Department, Ministry of Social Affairs and
      Integration,, +45 29289300
    • European Commission: Jonathan Todd, Spokesperson +32 2 299 41
    • European Anti-Poverty Network: Nellie Epinat, Communications Officer +32
      498 44 13 66 or Fintan Farrell, Director +32 474 79 79 34

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