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A woman giving food to a homeless man

3 EU cities that are working hard to eradicate homelessness

3 EU cities that are working hard to eradicate homelessness

The capitals of Finland, Greece, and Czechia have launched numerous initiatives to support homeless citizens

Having a roof over your head during the cold winter days and feeling safe should not be something one must prove to be worthy of. Everyone deserves to have a home, and everyone has the right to feel secure. Despite this, the UN-Habitat has found that a shocking 1.6 billion people live in inadequate housing conditions. What is worse, homelessness is becoming more and more prevalent as time goes on.

Understanding how grave this is, cities and governments all over the globe are working on finding ways to help those who do not have access to housing. However, only a handful of them are succeeding in bringing about meaningful change.

Thus, TheMayor.EU has now put together a list of the 3 EU capitals which have made exceptional efforts to help those who have no other choice but to live and sleep outdoors.

Helsinki, Finland

For many years, the Finnish capital has worked hard to humanise the lives of homeless people and raise awareness of the challenges they face. For Helsinki, and Finland as a whole, housing is not something one must earn, but rather a basic human right. As such, it uses the Housing First Principle, unconditionally offering homes to those who find themselves on the streets.

The Helsinki-based Y Foundation explains the theory behind the Housing First Principle, noting that having a home must not be seen as a reward but as the foundation on which one can piece their life back together. With this operating model and way of thinking, Finland has successfully decreased its homeless population, from around 20,000 in the 1980s to 4,341 in 2021.

Aside from this, Helsinki has been hosting a Homeless Night event every year since 2002. At this annual event, citizens are encouraged to donate clothing, sleeping bags, vitamins, sanitary products, and other necessities that can help those who are vulnerable. With such initiatives, the Finnish capital is well on its way to achieving its ambitious goal of eradicating homelessness by 2025.

Athens, Greece

Another European capital that is working hard to help reduce its homeless population is Athens, Greece. In just two years, the Greek capital has launched numerous initiatives and projects, helping this vulnerable group to access housing and to enter the labour force.

Taking a case in point, it opened a Multipurpose Homeless Centre in April 2020. With a capacity to house up to 400 people, the centre not only provides homeless individuals with shelter but also food, showers, washing machines, and internet, among others.

In June 2021, Athens strengthened its efforts, announcing that a number of the centre’s residents could participate in an intensive training programme, allowing them to develop the skills they need to secure employment. As part of this programme, individuals received help writing CVs and preparing for interviews.

Beyond this, the Greek capital also unveiled a modern hair salon, offering free services to those in need earlier this month. With this latest action, Athens hopes to help boost the confidence of those who are homeless and facilitate their social reintegration.

Prague, Czechia

Ever since the outbreak of the pandemic, the Czech capital has increased its efforts to help homeless individuals. Last year, it built an integrated system of emergency housing solutions using EU funds. With this system, citizens who found themselves at risk of – or already in – a housing emergency could access support at one of the Contact Points for Housing in the city’s districts. There, depending on one’s situation, they could either obtain counselling, legal aid, or temporary housing.

Also in 2020, Prague unveiled a crisis accommodation programme, providing homeless citizens with housing to ensure their safety and prevent the spread of COVID. Expanding on this, the city’s support went beyond providing accommodation as it also sought to ensure that those who received housing could then enter the labour force and secure their own homes. Following this action, the capital further unveiled the creation of a network of smaller facilities where individuals could gain access to food, water, shelter, etc.

In the summer of 2021, the Czech capital collaborated with the Salvation Army to vaccinate homeless citizens with a single-dose Johnson & Johnson jab. By administering single-dose COVID vaccines, Prague guaranteed that its homeless population was safe and fully vaccinated despite their inability to access the healthcare services they deserve.

Councillor Milena Johnová discussed the capital’s efforts earlier this year, noting that its long-term goal is to eradicate homelessness and to ensure a sufficient supply of stable, dignified, and affordable housing.

With these exemplary projects and initiatives, the EU capitals are improving the lives of their homeless citizens. More importantly, they act as inspiration for other cities in Europe and around the world.

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