Homelessness is the result of gross violations of many fundamental rights, and a societal rather than individual failure. It is driven by structural factors such as poverty and inequality and it affects people in vulnerable situations the most including children, adolescents, youth, older persons, women, persons with disabilities, those displaced by climate change and natural disasters and by violent conflict.

The lack of a standardised and inclusive definition of homelessness, as well as a solid evidence base to inform efficient policy responses, among others, have so far hindered the efforts of Governments to tackle this phenomenon.

Following the 57th session of the Commission for Social Development (2019), the United Nations Economic and Social Council, in its resolution 2019/4 (see E/RES/2019/4), decided that the priority theme of the 58th session (2020) of the Commission would have been “Affordable housing and social protection systems for all to address homelessness”.

In this context and in preparation for the 58th session of the Commission, the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, in collaboration with UN-Habitat, organized a three-day Expert Group Meeting in Nairobi (22-24 May 2019) to review major drivers of homelessness, identify existing gaps and priority areas for intervention, and make specific policy recommendations to focus on homelessness in the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

This report collects and analyses the contribution of the experts who participated in the Expert Group Meeting. In doing so, it aims to deepen the understanding of the complex causes of homelessness, the challenges homeless people face and the effects of homelessness on individuals and societies. The report contains policy recommendations on effective housing and social protection policies emanating from the meeting.