Criminalising and penalising homeless people for carrying out life-sustaining activities in public because there is nowhere to go is a problem across the EU. Policies and measures, be they at a local, regional or national level, that impose criminal or administrative penalties on homeless people are counterproductive and often violates human rights.
The penalisation of homelessness reflects deep-rooted prejudices about homeless people and ignorance of the daily deprivation and discrimination they suffer. Being homeless is not an individual choice, but a situation resulting from a variety of disadvantages. Living and sleeping rough in public spaces constitutes a huge risk to one’s health, social well-being and security. Everyone, including homeless people, would prefer adequate and safe housing if it were available and affordable.