The European Parliament has given its green light this Thursday to a report on access to decent and affordable housing for all that outlines a number of proposals on housing policies in the EU. It has advocated a universalist housing model aimed at meeting the needs of all, especially of the most vulnerable groups such as youth, migrants, persons with disabilities and women victims of gender-based violence, and it addresses specific issues such as homelessness or segregated settlements.
In the negotiations, we argued that the right to housing should not be defined strictly as access to social housing, but in a broader sense as the right of all citizens to live in a home in peace, security and dignity.
I have also highlighted the Socialists and Democrats’ contributions to the report, which includes a number of progressive proposals. Unfortunately, others have been slowed down by right-wing groups such as, for example, the ban on evictions, measures to control rental prices and to curb speculation, tourism and gentrification. The right-wing groups have also succeeded in bringing down the socialist initiative to set housing costs at no more than 25 % of a household’s disposable income. I regret that the they deny the reality of families, because even banks do not approve any loans when the monthly quota exceeds 35 %. The proposal to introduce a specific target for the provision of adequate social housing in 2030 was paradoxically rejected by the Greens.
Despite this, the overall balance sheet is positive, since the report contains very important socialist achievements that have succeeded in overcoming the obstacles of the right wing, such as the defence of a universalist housing model aimed at meeting not only the housing needs of the most disadvantaged, but also the housing needs of middle-income groups; consideration of social housing policies from a broader perspective, including investment in recreational and sports facilities, community centres, or green spaces to improve living conditions; or the inclusion of the concept of “green social housing” and criteria for sustainability or support for the circular economy.
One of the most progressive points of the report has also been achieved, i.e. the inclusion of the housing sector in the list of Services of General Economic Interest and it is therefore excluded from the rules on competition and State aid. This socialist proposal represents a huge progress that will give countries full freedom to put in place public housing plans and provide as much social housing as necessary.
The COVID-19 crisis has further exacerbated housing insecurity. The S & D Group therefore defends the right to housing from a human rights perspective, the implementation of which is mandatory for the Member States and also for the Commission, and considers that lack of adequate housing, homelessness or forced evictions a violation of human rights.