The City of Vienna together with the International Union of Tenants (IUT) held an event reviewing the impact of EU policy on housing ahead of the European Commission preparation of the revision of the “Almunia” package, which is scheduled for 2017.
The City of Vienna has put a lot of emphasis on the issue of social housing ever since, with a communal housing stock with about 220.000 homes, and an additional 160.000 flats from cooperative and not-for profit housing companies. As a growing city there is a need to further invest in affordable homes and in the whole infrastructure for about 30.000 new inhabitants per year. This in itself constitutes already a major challenge for the city´s budget.
Unfortunately, under the regulations of the European semester, such long term public investments are defined as debts, thus adding to the national deficit. This is increasingly seen critical by many protagonists in the urban, housing and public finance arena throughout Europe.
Issues around the financing conditions for affordable housing have been subject of a lot of discussion in the past years, and they have even led to decisions endangering well established social housing systems in several EU member states.
In 2016, the European Commission will start to prepare the revision of the “Almunia” package, which is scheduled for 2017. Ahead of this review the city of Vienna hosted a session to review the impact and gather ideas and best practices.
After chairing the workshop group on structural funds, Housing Europe Secretary General, Sorcha Edwards said:
“The European Commission estimates that over 1 million homes will be refurbished with the help of ESIF 2014-2017. Housing Europe reports that 77% of operational programmes allow investment in housing. Now the challenge is to tackle regulatory obstacles, mobilise at local level and make this and more happen.”