It is clear that homelessness is on the rise in Europe. A mixture of strict austerity and pro-growth policies are leaving record numbers of citizens behind. Don’t forget the refugees who escaped conflict to seek a better life in Europe, the majority of whom live on the streets. That isn’t to say there aren’t local and European-wide initiatives to fight homelessness; there are even legislative attempts to deliver permanent housing rather than temporary solutions. But are we doing enough? We are talking about vulnerable lives, after all.
What’s more, homelessness is more than just a state of being; it is also something we feel. A borderless Europe, with all its conveniences, has achieved the free movement of people – it is increasingly easier for us to choose a home to suit our identity and preferences. Does our right to decide – our ability to denounce home as we knew it – result in a Europe that works for everyone, or an unrooted and denationalized existence?
It is important to consider how we perceive the homeless and how they wish to be perceived. Are attempts to popularize charitable gestures doing so for the right reasons? As a society, whose responsibility is it to help? Are national governments tackling the problem seriously enough?
Homeless, our sixth issue, brings together a broad range of perspectives, stories and artistry under one objective: to cast light on a reality of which we are all a part – no matter one’s background, race or culture. ***The Are We Europe team