IUT: Statement on evictions
Affordable housing is at the heart of European public policies and should be at the heart of international public policies. However, for years, the political choices made by States have contributed to reinforcing expensive housing, amplifying the housing crisis and initiating a financialisation of social housing which aggravates economic and social inequalities. Since the Covid pandemic and the explosion of energy prices, household budgets have been undergoing a continuous deterioration which makes the energy transition and the construction of affordable housing for all even more urgent and imperative.
For those affected by the unprecedented health and economic crisis, we need to find solutions to guarantee them a roof over their heads. The development of sustainable mechanisms to prevent homelessness must be undertaken by the EU Member States. In application of the fundamental right to maintain and have access to safe and sanitary housing, recognised by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the European Social Charter, the European Charter of Fundamental Rights, and many national constitutions.
The Covid-19 crisis revealed the shortcomings of the existing mechanisms put in place by the Member States to respond to an emergency and avoid human tragedies. In France, the winter truce was extended for several months, reducing the number of rental evictions, but these exceptional measures are temporary and do not solve the problem of homelessness. There is a need to go beyond the dedication of shelter services, which are kept operational in very difficult circumstances. Member states should seize the opportunity to move towards systems that focus on access to housing.
The IUT expresses its solidarity with families evicted from their homes due to rent arrears or foreclosure.
The sharp decrease in the construction of social housing by different national governments is due to the reduction of the number of beneficiaries by lowering the income thresholds to be eligible. For example, in Brussels, the social housing stock is less than 10%. In France, 30,000 families are threatened with forced eviction in 2022 and the cost of housing is increasing. Meanwhile, household incomes in the EU have risen by only 2.4%. For most European households, access to affordable rental housing is becoming impossible, while rent arrears are a growing trend.
The “NextGenerationEU” Recovery Plan and the European cohesion funds must be used to implement systemic and structural transformations and must no longer only support the logic of projects, with real added value but limited to local scales and short timeframes. For example, the European Commission’s Technical Instrument Support (TIS) fund should encourage States to finance a change of scale in housing policies, including rental evictions.
Financial assistance and rapid rehousing programmes cost less than evictions and prevent homelessness, the worst form of social exclusion. The establishment of the homelessness platform by the European Union is a commendable initiative but increasing access to housing reduces homelessness, while the opposite is true when the level of protection is reduced. This is why it is essential to put in place measures to eradicate homelessness not only at the European level but also at the international level, and this means putting an end to rental evictions.
Particularly affected by this growing impoverishment, thousands of families suffer from the loss of their homes. The International Union of Tenants says no to rental evictions!