“Our country is full” is a statement you might often hear as a justification for not accepting any more migrants and refugees. According to this opinion, European countries do not have capacity to accept more newcomers, who put pressure on infrastructure – and especially housing. But when we look more closely, can it really be said that Europe is full?
According to data from the censuses conducted across Europe in 2011, there are at least 15.8 million verified empty homes in Europe; 1 in other words, there are enough empty homes in Europe to house all the asylum seekers that arrived in Europe last year, and all of Europe’s 4 million homeless people, several times over.
However, many Europeans are struggling with a housing market that makes it even more difficult for them to buy or rent a home. There are many reasons for this, including housing speculation, where investors buy houses to use simply as assets to be sold on when their value increases, as well as the economic situation and unstable employment. But what seems clear is that this market is not working for European people, and migrants and refugees are not the cause of the problem.
This unfair housing market is especially serious for young people in Europe. Ever-rising rents mean that living situations for most young Europeans are unstable: it’s no surprise that over 48% of young people (aged 18-34) in the European Union still live with their parents2, unable to truly realise their independence. And meanwhile, there are millions of homes sitting empty.
Despite this, populist politicians and media continue to focus their rhetoric on migrants and refugees. The European housing market is clearly not working for people, leaving millions homeless and millions more paying higher and higher rents. Should we really be blaming all our problems on migration?
Whether or not we are asylum-seekers, we are all Life Seekers, who desire a better future. Do you agree that European governments should focus on the real problems facing our societies, and stop scapegoating migrants and refugees? Raise your voice by joining the #LifeSeekers campaign!