to address the issue of an continuously increasing number of homeless people in the EU - 70% increase in the last 10 years;
to call for coordination of national policies in the fields of prevention, monitoring and definition of homelessness; to assert that homelessness can be solved if the right policy mix of targeted prevention and coordinated measures is implemented in a sustained and systemic manner; and to call for cross-cutting policies to effectively address it;
to call for the formulation of EU policies in close cooperation with national, local and regional authorities to combat homelessness, focusing primarily on Housing First;
to ensure a strong focus on homelessness in all relevant EU policy initiatives such as the EU Child Guarantee, EU Disability Strategy, EU LGBT Strategy, EU Gender Equality Strategy, EU Roma Framework, EU Youth Guarantee, Social Economy Action Plan, EU4Health Programme, EU Migration Pact and EU Affordable Housing Initiative;
to evaluate and propose actions for the newly formed European Platform of Combatting Homelessness;
to promote the target of eradicating homelessness in the EU by 2030.
Mr Aaltonen has been nominated a reprentative of the CoR in the European Pillar on Combatting Homelessness (EPOCH) as well as a member of its Steering Board.
Mr Aaltonen has represented the CoR in the first Plenary of the platform under the Slovenian Presidency on 30 November 2021.
Mr Aaltonen will attend the ministerial high level conference of the EPOCH in Paris on 28 February 2022 and a follow-up meeting in Lyon on 1 March 2022.
European Commission's report - follow-up of the CoR Plenary Session of December 2021, made extensive references to the opinion (namely points 14,19, 20, 21, 22, 25, 26, 27, 28), endorsing the CoR positions and outlining future actions.
THE EUROPEAN COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS
- notes that homelessness is probably the most severe manifestation of social exclusion in Europe. It is an urgent societal problem that requires more attention by policymakers at all relevant levels including local, regional, national and EU levels;
- believes that homelessness can be solved if the right policy mix of targeted prevention and coordinated measures is implemented in a sustained and systemic manner. Such policy mix should involve close cooperation between social and housing services, in conjunction with the judicial system, and housing-led solutions such as the Housing First approach;
- stresses that local and regional authorities are key players in the fight against homelessness, but they often lack key policy levers and the financial support to be effective. Therefore, homelessness policies should involve all relevant levels of government;
- calls on the European Commission to play an active role in the coordination of the Platform and to allocate sufficient EU resources to ensure effective governance and visible policy impact;
- suggests making Housing First a priority topic for the Platform, given the rapidly growing interest among diverse stakeholders such as national and local governments, NGOs and housing providers. The Committee believes that Housing First, which should be imperatively complemented by high quality social support services in order to help people address personal challenges, should lead to a systemic change in the way homelessness is addressed and not merely be promoted at project level;
- calls on all Member States to develop national homelessness strategies, in consultation with regional and local authorities and with a strong housing-led, place-based approach as the basis, in order to effectively address specific challenges facing different towns, cities and regions. The Committee invites the Commission to produce a European toolkit to support the Member States with their strategic planning;
- calls on EU local and regional authorities to put an immediate stop to the criminalisation and penalisation of rough sleepers, in line with human rights jurisprudence and as requested by the European Parliament.