You may have noticed but recently I visited one of the finer Italian cities, Trieste. It was here that I photographed some very colourful people. However while writing about them, I made a slight, off-the-cuff remark about homelessness in Europe. To maintain high standards of journalism here at Travel Antics, it seemed only right to explore this in more depth.
I personally felt drawn to this subject after I met a friendly woman in an underpass, begging for change. She seemed so thankful for the pitiful amount of 70 cents I found while digging around in my pocket. I soon found myself wondering how many there were like her across Europe? And more importantly is there a way to save her from this life? So I started to do my own research and this is what I found:
With a recent rise of people seeking asylum in European countries it comes as no surprise that homelessness has risen over the past year. According to a study by the EU there is currently 4.1 million homeless people living in European countries and while this may not seem like a lot, it’s an unnecessarily large number for a collection of first world countries.
The European Federation of National Organisations working with the homeless (or FEANTSA if you want to avoid that mouthful) claim ‘many Member States report an increasing proportion of homeless women, families, migrants and young people.’
But while these people sleep on the hard ground or poorly run emergency shelters, 11 million homes* lay vacant across Europe. Many claim that this would solve the crisis twice over, with 700,000 in the UK alone and 1.8 million in Germany.*
David Ireland is the Chief Executive of the Empty Homes charity, who try to help those living in poverty by demonstrating for empty homes to be made available to those that need them. He told the Guardian newspaper. “Homes are built for people to live in, if they’re not being lived in then something has gone seriously wrong.”
So what does this mean for my kindly, homeless woman? Will she find herself in one of these vacant properties? Maybe you will call me a pessimist but I doubt it. The world will always be controlled by greed and while wealthy people have a chance of selling vacant properties to other rich landowners then people like her will suffer the consequences. As famous American Author Horace Mann once said ‘doing nothing for others is the undoing of ourselves.’
*According to an article by the Guardian newspaper.