Minister for Housing and Planning Jan O’Sullivan, TD, today welcomed the positive outcomes of the EU roundtable meeting on homelessness. Minister O’Sullivan co-chaired the meeting of EU ministers with responsibility for homelessness policy with Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, LászlÓ Andor at the Irish College in Leuven, Belgium.
Minister O’Sullivan - I consider it highly appropriate that during 2013, which is the European Year of Citizens, a focus is placed on the homeless, who are among the most marginalised in our communities.
Speaking about the event Minister O’Sullivan said: “The purpose of the roundtable discussion is to bring added focus to the EU’s involvement in the area of homelessness, to discuss issues of common interest and possible future cooperation so as to signal the strong support among Member States towards addressing and tackling the issue of homelessness.
“Homelessness is an affront to every value that we assign to the concept of citizenship. I consider it highly appropriate that during 2013, which is the European Year of Citizens, a focus is placed on the homeless, who are among the most marginalised in our communities.”
Commissioner Andor said:
“The current crisis has led to an unprecedented level of homelessness in the EU. This extreme and complex form of social exclusion can only be addressed through integrated policies combining for instance housing interventions with employment or education-related actions.
“The recently adopted Social Investment Package provides Member States with guidance on such integrated policies and calls for the best use to be made of the structural funds, notably the European Social Fund. “
The meeting agreed six principles that will inform homelessness policy across Europe. These principles are:
Principle 1 (Develop and Share Knowledge and Best Practice)
Recognition of need to develop and share knowledge about homelessness so as to greatly improve the quality of homelessness responses at a national, regional, and local level.
Principle 2 (Core Elements for Response)
Acknowledge that housing-led approaches to homelessness which prioritise access to affordable, long-term stable housing solutions, are one of the most effective responses to homelessness. Also acknowledged that prevention is crucial.
Principle 3 (Funding)
An adequate level of funding to confront homelessness and enable continuous, high-quality provision of services, involving private investors, partnerships and collaborative approaches, if possible, should be provided.
Better utilisation of EU financing instruments to combat homelessness should be encouraged.
Principle 4 (Common Reference Framework)
A comprehensive reference framework for homelessness can improve the capacity for data collection, comparison and analysis
Principle 5 (Research, Innovation and Data Collection)
A better understanding of the homelessness phenomenon would result in improved, evidence-based policies and enhanced responses to homelessness. Research and ongoing development of knowledge, and innovative approaches to the problem are required.
Principle 6 (Implementation and Monitoring)
The development and implementation of national homelessness plans should be monitored and advice and expertise should be made available where required.