What is social housing?
Social housing in Latvia consists in “social houses” and “social apartments” rented by municipalities at affordable rents to vulnerable households. A social apartment is a municipally owned apartment, which is let out to a family who is recognized as entitled to rent the apartment. Contracts are concluded for a maximum of six months, and can be renewed if the household still complies with the conditions set by the municipality.
Furthermore, social houses are municipally owned buildings with a special social status, where all apartments are social apartments. Social housing represents a minor part of the municipal stock, and only 0.4% of the national housing stock and it is concentrated in the larger cities.
Who provides social housing?
Social housing in Latvia is provided exclusively by municipalities. However some larger municipalities have created specific companies to carry out management and maintenance of the public stock.
How is social housing financed?
The local authorities are responsible for financing social housing through their local budgets. Since 2006 investment in new social housing is co-financed by the central government via special funds. The subsidy programme also encourages public-private partnerships for the construction and renovation of social housing, but so far there has been almost no involvement of private stakeholders. Tenants pay a monthly rent which is very low, up to one third of the locally set municipal rent level. Often the municipality also subsidizes utility costs for the low-income households.
Who can access social housing?
In Latvia, access criteria to social housing are specified in local decrees passed by the local municipalities, and the target population is low-income households.