More than 11m homes lie empty across Europe – enough to house all of the continent’s homeless twice over – according to figures collated by the Guardian from across the EU.
In Spain more than 3.4m homes lie vacant, in excess of 2m homes are empty in each of France and Italy, 1.8m in Germany and more than 700,000 in the UK.
There are also a large numbers of vacant homes in Ireland, Greece, Portugal and several other countries, according to information collated by the Guardian.
Many of the homes are in vast holiday resorts built in the feverishhousing boom in the run up to the 2007-08 financial crisis – and have never been occupied.
On top of the 11m empty homes – many of which were bought as investments by people who never intended to live in them – hundreds of thousands of half-built homes have been bulldozed in an attempt to shore up the prices of existing properties.
Housing campaigners said the “incredible number” of homes lying empty while millions of poor people were crying out for shelter was a “shocking waste”.
“It’s incredible. It’s a massive number,” said David Ireland, chief executive of the Empty Homes charity, which campaigns for vacant homes to be made available for those who need housing. “It will be shocking to ordinary people.
“Homes are built for people to live in, if they’re not being lived in then something has gone seriously wrong with the housing market.”
Ireland said policymakers urgently needed to tackle the issue of wealthy buyers using houses as “investment vehicles” – not homes.
He said Europe’s 11m empty homes might not be in the right places “but there is enough [vacant housing] to meet the problem of homelessness“. There are 4.1 million homeless across Europe, according to the European Union.
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