The Pillar covers the different aspects of the right to housing in a comprehensive manner for the first time at Union level.
While the Charter of Fundamental Rights provides the right to housing assistance and to a decent existence for all those who lack sufficient resources, Principle 19a goes further by referring to the provision of housing support in-kind, namely social housing. Either social housing or housing assistance should be provided: the material scope of the Principle includes the whole range of possibilities in providing support in relation to housing, and covers, for example, housing benefit, income support, rental guarantees and tax deductions.
The personal scope of this provision is also wider than under the Charter as it includes housing assistance for everyone in need, not only for those who lack sufficient financial resources but equally those with special needs – due to their disabilities, family breakdown etc.
As regards assisting vulnerable people in the case of eviction, the Pillar represents a significant reinforcement of the right to housing and housing security in particular. Vulnerable people can include both at-risk tenants and dispossessed owners at risk of eviction. The Principle requires the provision of assistance and protection, such as affordable legal representation, advocacy and mediation; or protective measures, such as access to debt management schemes, to mitigate the risk of homelessness. At the same time, the principle is with due regard of the interests of landlords and in justified, lawful cases.
Moreover, the Pillar establishes universal access to adequate shelters for everyone in a homeless situation. Adequate housing can be understood in terms of security of tenure, affordability, habitability, accessibility, location and cultural adequacy. The Principle also sets the bar higher by promoting the reintegration of homeless people into society, by means of enabling social services.