Close to a million people in Europe are homeless, and 14.8% of Europeans live in substandard housing. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) over 100,000 deaths are attributable to substandard housing in Europe every year.

Behind these shocking statistics are human beings with lives, experiences and stories.

On the other side are the corporations and tech platforms -looking to make a quick profit off a fundamental human need – housing. The Left has been working hard to expose these platforms that manipulate markets and take advantage of working people to perpetuate their destructive business models. Residents of many European cities now find themselves completely shut out of the housing market as the ladder is kicked away by those who would redesign our town centers according to the demands of speculators and the tourism industry.

In collaboration with Murray Cox, the community activist behind the Inside Airbnb data project, and Kenneth Haar, researcher and campaigner at Corporate Europe Observatory, The Left published a study ‘Platform Failures – How Short-Term Rental Platforms like Airbnb fail to cooperate with cities and the need for strong regulations to protect housing’ that revealed how Airbnb has driven up rents, caused damage to urban communities, and wrecked affordable social housing programmes. 

In this week’s European Parliament plenary debate on the topic of collecting and sharing data on short-term rental housing services, MEP Kateřina Konečná (KSČM, Czech Republic) insisted on the need for Parliament to take a firm stance on the issue: “The EU has neglected the housing situation for too long. More and more platforms like Airbnb are driving up rental prices in cities. Housing must not be left to speculators. Everyone must be able to live in dignity.”

We must act against Airbnb, which empties cities of affordable accommodation. We need to limit short-term rentals to owner-occupiers and for a limited period”, said MEP Leila Chaibi (La France Insoumise, France).

Inadequate and destructive housing policies, Covid19, the war in Ukraine, and inflation have all meant that more and more people are finding themselves without housing and in extreme precariousness. Meanwhile, big companies are privatizing property and eliminating our access  to housing. In pursuing a just society, let us remember: the right to housing isn’t just about roofs over heads; it’s about dignity, security, and the fundamental belief that everyone deserves a place to call home.

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