The own initiative report “Access to decent and affordable housing for all” by the Dutch MEP Kim Van Sparrentak was adopted on 21 January 2021 in the EU Parliament by 352 votes in favour, 179 against and 152 abstentions. “The right to adequate housing is a fundamental human right that should be enshrined in national and European law”, MEPs say. “European rules are often better at protecting profit generated by the housing market than protecting people who need a roof over their heads. We need the EU to step up its game and use all the tools available to do its part, together with the member states. The report offers concrete solutions for all levels to take action. We can solve the housing crisis if we want to, and we can end homelessness by 2030″, stresses Van Sparrentak in the Parliament Hemicycle
Minimum mandatory requirements for habitable homes should be introduced at EU level that include healthy indoor air quality and are aligned with WHO guidelines, MEPs urge. They also call on the Commission and member states to prioritise the reduction of emissions and to boost energy efficiency through housing renovation.
Eradicating homelessness by 2030
In many EU countries, rates of homelessness have increased over the last decade due to rising housing costs and social programmes and benefits being cut and suspended. In addition, exceptional measures to prevent homelessness and protect homeless people in the COVID-19 crisis should be maintained. In particularly moratoria on evictions and on disconnection from energy supplies as well as the provision of temporary housing.
Keeping housing affordable
MEPs also call on member states and regional and local authorities to put in place legal provisions to protect the rights of tenants and owner-occupiers. Housing is considered affordable if the occupant’s remaining budget is at least sufficient to cover other essential expenditure. While this threshold is currently set at 40%, more than a quarter of European tenants in commercial housing spend a higher percentage of their income on rent, with average rents constantly increasing. Finally, MEPs point out that the expansive growth of short-term holiday rental is removing housing from the market and driving prices up, which can make living in urban and tourist centres significantly more difficult.