Brussels had turned clearly to the political capital of Europe and CECODHAS could not be missing. Following the decision for establishing a permanent representation in Brussels, the time for the first full-time staff member to trigger the organization’s presence.
Claire Roumet was appointed in 2000 at CECODHAS first full-time advocate in Brussels and drew up its first working plan. Thus, the organization continued at a faster pace developing its contacts with the European Parliament and the European Commission, taking an active part in the European Housing Forum, working closely with devoted partners such as FEANTSA and the Social Platform.
In 2001 CECODHAS went overseas. A delegation attended an extraordinary meeting of the United Nations General Assembly that evaluated the work of the Habitat Programme.
In 2003 it was clear that the influence of CECODHAS on EU affairs was growing and was starting bearing fruit. For the first time, as part of the European Housing Forum, the Social Housing Liaison Committee- as officially registered- organized a round table discussion with directors of Housing Ministry and representatives from European Commission Directorates. At the informal meeting of housing ministers, CECODHAS called for European Structural Funds to be used to improve housing conditions and develop sustainable communities in the new member states in Eastern and Central Europe- a policy that was later adopted and that is still timely.
At the same time CECODHAS helped convince the European Commission to introduce reductions in VAT rates for housing refurbishment. The organization also advocates for housing to be included as one of the central themes of the EU’s sustainable development strategy while it publishes “Breaking down the Barriers”, which showcases the work of CECODHAS members in providing housing for people with disabilities.
In the internal front, Luc Laurent was the president (2003-2004) who carried out the work of reforming the organization’s statutes, establishing a management board by the president and better organizing sections and working groups. In November 2004 the European Social Housing Observatory is re-launched, bringing the research and knowledge needed to support CECODHAS policy work. Its main objectives are to:
- Identify trends in the social housing and related sectors
- Carry out research in key areas related to social housing
- Develop strategic thinking on the current trends and future role of social housing in Europe
- Document and analyze new developments and policies
To be continued on Friday, November 29...