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Our homes are where Europe's future starts

Housing Europe Manifesto for the European Elections 2019

Brussels, 17 January 2019 | Published in Energy, Urban, Economy, Social
Our homes are where Europe's future starts #EP2019

Why investing in public, cooperative and social housing is the best return on investment for Europe. The scope of Europe’s housing challenge, the housing providers’ offer, the needs in the post-2020 EU and Housing Europe’s proposals. Stay tuned with our campaign all the way up until May when the European Elections will take place.

 

I. Europe's Housing Challenge

Although growth has returned to big parts of our continent, it is leaving many behind and our societies are increasingly unequal. Similarly, the recent ‘recovery’ in housing markets is far from benefitting everyone.

The current state of housing markets can be summarized as followed:  

  1. Housing has become the highest expenditure for Europeans and overburden rates remain stable at high level, hitting disproportionally harder the poor. 4 out of 10 Europeans below the poverty line are overburdened by housing costs.
  2. House prices are growing faster than income levels in most Member States, while inequality and housing exclusion are mutually reinforcing. Broad target groups lack the possibility to enter the housing market like young and migrants. Meanwhile mobility is limited due to high house prices, which effect the opportunity to move for workers and families.   
  3. Territorial divide is alarming, as finding adequate and affordable housing in places with job opportunities is increasingly hard. Shrinking cities and regions are quickly becoming a priority on the agenda of local and regional authorities.
  4. As the level of housing construction is still low, especially major cities face a structural housing shortage reinforced by recent waves of migration.
  5. Political response to Europe’s housing challenge remains poor, a fact reflected in increasing levels of homelessness and overall housing exclusion.
  6. Climate change is alarming. The housing sector is a major user of energy and materials. Penetration of energy efficiency measures and renewable energy in the housing sector should be facilitated while maintaining affordability for all. Building and construction materials make out a large proportion of Europe’s waste: waste handling for recycling and circular business models is needed.

II. What we offer | Why social, cooperative and cooperative housing matters?

1/ Growth for all

Social, cooperative and public housing providers do promote a variety of housing options for various target groups and housing needs (Housing First, social, affordable housing, targeted offer for elderly, young, migrants, etc., social mix). Affordable housing favours labour mobility too, which has an impact on local unemployment rate.

2/ Communities for all

Social, cooperative and public housing providers are partners for cities, urban and rural communities that can help deal with the most pressing challenges like urban sprawl and socio-spatial segregation.

3/ Not only a roof

Social, cooperative and public housing organisations provide social innovation, employment services, health services, digital inclusion to the residents, in order to improve their quality of life

4/ Leaders for a fair energy transition

Social, cooperative and public housing providers build nearly zero energy homes, renovate existing dwellings and promote the production of renewable energy, thus contributing to reduce CO2 emissions, energy bills and increase comfort and living conditions. Good handling of construction and renovation waste for recycling and circular business models is also on the agenda of housing providers. Thus, they contribute to achieve a fair energy transition and promote circular and decarbonised energy in the European Union.


III. What is needed?

1/ Stability for Evolution

Social, cooperative and public housing organisations need public investment and supportive legislations to build affordable and decent homes for those whose housing needs cannot be met by market providers.

2/ Cohesion for Fairness

 EU funding programmes have to support social and territorial cohesion through better housing and adapted housing solutions, in particular by ensuring equal access to affordable housing between territories.

3/ Flexibility for Progress

EU tax, competition and internal market rules have to be supportive of the investment efforts made by social, cooperative and public housing organisations.

4/ Action for Fair Energy Transition

Climate objectives can only be achieved through a mix between energy savings and production of renewable energy (in particular in a decentralised approach); social, cooperative and public housing organisations should be further supported in leading the way forward.

5/ Support for Circular Economy

Using recycled material as inputs for new construction and renovation, improve information regarding the health impact of building materials are essential to move towards a sustainable and decarbonised economy.

Although housing policies are primarily a matter of national and local governments, the European Union has a role to play.

To be able to further support affordable housing and liveable communities in the EU, Housing Europe members call for...

  • ...download our detailed proposals below & support us #housingeu

  • Stay tuned, our campaign will be unfolding with a lot of material for each of the above points over the course of the next months.


Campaign updates

  • Read our exclusive interview with former European Commission President, Romano Prodi who calls for "leadership in Europe now in support of affordable housing"
  • Check out the Action Plan for Affordable Housing in the EU (in EN and FR) produced by the international conference held at the European Parliament in Strasbourg in January 2019.
  • Watch a video presenting the urban regeneration in the area of Confluence in Lyon- the city that will host the 2nd International Social Housing Festival in June 2019. Housing was at the core of this massive project ...
  • Read the latest issue of 'The Progressive Post' that is dedicated to social housing, including inter alia an interview with the President of Housing Europe and an overview of good examples from across Europe, most of them initiatives of members organizations of our members.
  • A European Citizens' Initiative on Affordable Housing
    A citizens’ group from Vienna has been mobilizing civil society in most EU member states aiming to submit a European Citizens’ Initiative around affordable housing in Europe. Indeed, the European Commission announced on March 12th that it has accepted the Initiative entitled ‘Housing for All’ that has been officially registered since March 18th. The run for signatures has also been open since then and the goal is to receive one million statements of support within one year, from at least seven different Member States.
    What is the objective of the Initiative?

    In a nutshell, “to bring about better legal and financial framework conditions to facilitate access to housing for everyone in Europe". More concretely, the ECI puts forward five main demands:
    1. Improvement of the access to social and affordable housing within the EU.
    2. Exclude public investment in housing from deficit criteria of the EU.
    3. Easier access to financial EU-funds for non-for-profit and public entities.
    4. Creating a one level playing field between the established economies and the digital platform providers.
    5. Standardised data collection on the local housing situation in the EU by extending the European Statistical Programme.
    All relevant information can be found on the website www.housingforall.eu in many official EU languages.
     
  • GdW shares its expectations from the European Policymakers. Housing Europe German member, GdW shared a position paper outlining the sector's expectations from the EU policymakers for the legislative period 2019-2024. Full document in German.
     
  • Cooperatives Europe- Housing Europe is a member- released last week a strategy paper titled “Cooperative future for Europe: will you be part of it?” as well as its cooperative campaign ahead of the European Parliament elections, titled #CoopsInspireChange, available at elections.coopseurope.coop.
     
  • SHICC project- Housing Europe is associate partner- launched their CLT manifesto ahead of EU elections. Since one of the project aims is to create a more favourable policy environment for Community Land Trusts across North-West Europe they are listing just some of the ways the EU can support CLTs. Click here to see the manifesto.
     

Some background information

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  • The European Union is important for housing and housing is an important matter for the EU.

Housing Europe is united in its vision of a Europe which helps to provide access to decent and affordable housing for all in communities which are socially, economically and environmentally sustainable and where everyone is enabled to reach their full potential.

Public, cooperative or social housing organisations do not just provide affordable homes but also: domiciliary care and support services for residents with specific needs; additional services for tenants (kindergartens, community centres, employment and training services, financial advice); neighbourhood services; management of other types of ‘sheltered’ accommodation; urban development and urban regeneration.

Despite their differences, Housing Europe members share the values of democracy and work for economic, social and environmental cohesion, in a context marked by migration and climate change. The European Pillar of Social Rights, adopted by the European Union in 2017, reaffirms that in the 21st century European Welfare State, access to social housing is essential and shall be provided for those in need.

Housing Europe members already provide around 25 million homes and invest yearly around 7 billion € to renovate existing homes. By providing new homes, renovating existing ones and constantly investing in communities, social, cooperative and public housing organisations help to save costs for society.