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4th Overview of Housing Exclusion in Europe 2019

Spectacular price increases, record number of homeless people, glaring lack of affordable housing: the housing crisis is affecting all of Europe. On the eve of the deadline for the European Union's cohesion policy in 2020, time to take stock has come. The conclusion is clear: the return to growth does not benefit everyone, quite the contrary.

Access to shelter, i.e. accommodation in the event of an emergency, is a fundamental right.

Homelessness is a counterpart to extreme poverty and a consequence of periods of economic recession. Until the middle of the 20th century, vagrancy legislation was very common in Europe: a homeless person was often considered destitute and to be on the margins of society, accused of having an ‘anti-social lifestyle’, criminalised and sometimes put into the army or forced into labour. As part of their charitable work, religious institutions took in the homeless – at that time called ‘paupers’ or ‘vagabonds’ – up to the middle of the 20th century. The Salvation Army, for example, was created by a branch of the Protestant Christian church in London in 1865, in order to take care of poor people and vagabonds; it then spread through the majority of European countries.

One of the first emergency shelters was created in Victorian England, offering what was known as the ‘four penny coffin’, where coffin-shaped beds were available at a small cost.


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