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25th Feb 2021

One in six Europeans squeezed into overcrowded homes

  • Many Europeans also said they suffered from a leaking roof (Photo: psyberartist)

One in six Europeans is forced to live in an overcrowded home, ranging from one percent of the population in Cyprus to 58 percent in Latvia, according to the EU's statistics agency, Eurostat.

The report, published on Wednesday (23 February) and based on 2009 data, also shows a considerable variation between member states regarding problems of damp, darkness or the availability of sanitary equipment in European homes.

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"Housing deprivation is one of the most extreme examples of poverty and social exclusion in society today," declares the document.

"Although access to affordable accommodation is a fundamental need and right, guaranteeing this right still represents a significant challenge in several member states."

Eurostat defines a person as living in an overcrowded home if the building does not contain one room per individual. One room per couple or two same-sex children is also considered acceptable.

At the lower end of the scale in 2009 were Cyprus with one percent of the population living in overcrowded dwellings, two percent in the Netherlands, three percent in Spain and four percent in Ireland, Belgium and Malta.

At the other end, 58 percent of Latvian citizens were estimated to suffer from overcrowded homes, 55 percent in Romania and Hungary, 49 percent in Poland and Lithuania and 47 percent in Bulgaria, all former Communist countries which joined the EU in 2004 or later.

One in six Europeans also said they live in a dwelling where a leaky roof or damp in the walls, floors or foundations or rot in window frames was a problem.

Here the figures ranged from five percent in Finland, seven percent in Slovakia and Sweden and eight percent in Denmark to 31 percent in Slovenia, 29 percent in Cyprus, 26 percent in Latvia and 24 percent in Bulgaria.

Sanitary conditions among EU states varied greatly. The share of persons living in dwellings with no indoor flushing toilet ranged from less than one percent in 15 countries to 43 percent in Romania, 26 percent in Bulgaria and 17 percent in Lithuania and Latvia.

Romania also had the highest proportion of people living in dwellings with no bath or shower, on 41 percent, compared to less than one percent in 17 member states.

The study looked at the preferences for different types of dwelling. On average in the EU27 in 2009, 42 percent of the population lived in a flat, 34 percent in a detached house and 23 percent in a semi-detached or terraced house.

Again, differences between countries were significant. While over half the population lived in flats in Latvia (66 percent), Estonia and Spain (both 65 percent), Lithuania (58 percent), Greece (56 percent), the Czech Republic, Germany and Italy (all 53 percent), the figure was as low as 3.1 percent in Ireland.

With a population of 4.5 million people, the figures suggests that just under 140,000 Irish citizens live in a flat, despite the fact that more than 130,000 are estimated to have been built between 2000 and 2009.

Economists now widely agree that a large part of Ireland's growth over the last decade has stemmed from a greatly overheated construction sector, with the country's property bubble coming to a spectacular end in 2007 when the onset of the global financial crisis caused an end to cheap credit.

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