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We are experiencing an unprecedented social crisis. Poverty is increasing, but wages aren’t. For millions, dignified and affordable housing has become an unattainable pipe dream.

In 2022, nearly 900,000 people were homeless in Europe. 19.2 million people live in an unworthy environment. Average rent has risen by 19% and housing prices have risen by 47% in the EU over the past decade. The number of households registered for social housing, for example in Brussels, increased from 49,000 in 2020 to nearly 52,000 and the list could go on. 

The right to live in dignity is a core value for The Left. With that in mind, Left MEPs Clare Daly and Mick Wallace (Independents for Change, Ireland) today launched our new study, “From Crisis to Cataclysm: Housing Financialisation and the EU” with the authors Enikő Vincze and Eva Betavatzi.

This study shows how the housing question is written into the fundamental contradictions of this system, how housing inequalities overlap with the class inequalities inherent in the capitalist political economy, and continue to be reproduced even if, nowadays, another stage of capitalism slowly replaces the neoliberal era.

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. These situations show that our system is broken, and we need to change it. 

“Nowadays, the housing affordability crisis has become so profound and far-reaching that, temporarily, for many people, it would mean an improvement if the capitalist European Union and its Member States would start investing in public housing and regulating the financial and real estate actors within and across countries. But can the profit-maximization-based capitalist system really afford such solutions?”

The privileged few are well-served by this neoliberal model that prioritises profits over human dignity. We must have a more equal distribution of wealth and insist on a fair taxation system to eliminate the kind of gross inequality we see in Europe and around the world. If we do not tackle problems at their source, we cannot eradicate the cause. 

Fighting and ending capitalism is not just a slogan, it is a matter of life or death.

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