EU: 4m homeless, 8m empty houses

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The 4.1 million homeless in the European Union could easily be housed in the 11 million vacant homes, according to news paper The Guardian, who collected data from all over Europe. Before the economic crisis hit Europe the housing market was steadily expanding, in anticipation of the expected rise in demand in especially Spain.

The industry was growing and immigration had been rising for years. The crisis caused the industry to shrink, taking immigration down in its wake, so the homes remain empty. Young people could not afford to buy a house and the market for vacation homes collapsed. With 3.4 empty homes Spain is in the lead, followed by France and Italy with 2 million empty homes, and Germany with 1.8 million. To a lesser extent Ireland, Portugal, and Greece are also affected. The number of vacancies would be even higher had the government not torn down half-built homes that were never finished, to increase the value of the homes that were finished, but remained vacant. The vacancy problem is even bigger in the U.S. where there are 18.5 million empty homes compared to 3.5 million homeless.