As homeless people are especially vulnerable to Covid19, FEANTSA has called for public authorities to take measures to protect homeless people and public health. We have seen governments using all possible resources to provide them with emergency accommodation. Among other things, we called to protect homeless people from punitive enforcement measures as homeless people should not be punished for staying in public spaces during the lockdown. They must be protected from fines and other sanctions and provided with safe alternatives, not just in times of COVID but in the future, too.
The present issue of the FEANTSA magazine focuses on repressive and coercive approaches towards people who are homeless and their survival practices. Whether in Europe or in the United States, there is overwhelming evidence that people who are homeless are being criminalised for the activities they are forced to carry out in public space, This approach is highly problematic for organisations working with homeless people and advocating for change. By framing homelessness as a public order and nuisance issue, it seeks to shift the responsibility away from public policy and over to the individuals experiencing homelessness.
At FEANTSA we have been working to raise awareness about the pitfalls of this approach to homelessness for many years already, Our most recent initiative relaunched in 2019 asks cities to endorse the Homeless Bill of Rights, a compilation of existing rights drawn from European and International human rights law. This time we wanted to emphasize the role of cities in tackling homelessness and upholding human rights at local level. By endorsing the bill, cities can reaffirm their commitment to human rights. Our goal is to raise public debate and awareness on the need to fair treatment for homeless people, especially those who are forced to sleep rough.
The Spring 2020 edition of the Homeless in Europe Magazine contains the following: