On April 8 2020, the European Commission published a report entitled ‘Understanding the housing conditions experienced by children in the EU’. The publication emphasizes that children are more likely to be exposed to housing deprivation and overcrowding than the average European population. Providing suitable housing is crucial, not only to reduce child homelessness and poverty, but also to foster the social inclusion of children in general. The authors mention EUROCITES’ WG Roma meeting in Toulouse as an example of good practice to tackle the issue of adequate housing for vulnerable groups.
After outlining the housing conditions of children across EU Member States, the report highlights that certain social groups like children of migrants, single parent households, couples with three or more children, and households living in private or social rented accomodation, face a particularly high risk of poor housing conditions. This could contribute to a further increase in inequality, as research shows that the quality of housing is strongly associated to the well-being and general development of children. Therefore, adequate housing for children is an important issue on the EU policy agenda. While the access to affordable housing and housing assistance is a key principal in the European Pillar of Social Rights (Principle 19), the Child Guarantee (a priority for the European Commission 2019-2024) aims at decreasing inequalities among children, including better access to decent housing. Finally, the report also identifies several good practices in which EU funding has been used to tackle housing deprivation among children, e.g. EUROCITIES’ WG Roma meeting.
In April 2019, EUROCITIES organised a study visit to Toulouse to learn from the city’s programme to provide housing to Roma. Toulouse is implementing an integrated plan to eliminate slums and help Roma move from camps into adequate housing.
As a result of the visit, city policymakers developed EUROCITIES ‘City guidelines – Moving Roma people out of camps: from planning and evacuation to preventing the formation of a new camp’. The guidelines include a three-step approach, from the planning to close a Roma settlement, via the implementation phase, to the prevention of new camps. During this process, the involvement of a wide network of partners, efficient communication, the determination to improve the well-being of Roma, and the continuity of support after camp closures, are key elements of success to provide better housing solutions.
The recent EU publication underlines the importance to ensure quality and affordable housing for children living in the EU to decrease inequalities in the future. EUROCITIES’ WG Roma meeting shows that the exchange of knowledge and policy practices between cities is an effective way to tackle this challenge.