The project 'Mapping trends and policies to tackle homelessness in Europe' aimed to provide a comparative assessment of national policies within corresponding social and health systems to prevent and address homelessness. We first developed a framework to measure relevant policies (see below). Subsequently, we conducted a comparative analysis with the following key findings:
- Not all European Union countries acknowledge the right to adequate housing as an individual enforceable right. And even if the right is acknowledged, the rights frequently do not generate effective policy outcomes for people who are at risk of homelessness or already homeless.
- From a systemic policy perspective, homelessness is characterized by insufficient resources allocated by governments to abandon it and by subjective as well as objective access barriers for people to benefits and service. This results in inadequate coverage and/or non-take up of benefits and services.
- Important findings furthermore include that access to adequate housing frequently is also restricted for vulnerable groups, mainly due to limited supply. Absence of reliable funding and sufficient affordable housing supply hinder a more widespread use of ‘housing first’ approaches.
- While inadequate minimum income benefits represent a major problem for homeless people, housing allowances lose their preventive function if inadequate compensation for real housing costs is provided.
- Despite wide-ranging health services for homeless people across Member States, barriers remain in utilizing these services. Improving access to healthcare will require addressing access barriers in mainstream healthcare services (e.g. eligibility conditions, lack of address).