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Affordable housing, a most European topic

A guest blog post by Jean-Louis Dumont

Paris, 15 February 2019 | Social, Economy

After launching its European Election campaign 'Our homes are where Europe's future starts', Housing Europe invites the directors of its members to share their views about the link between the EU and public, cooperative and social housing. The President of the Housing Europe French member organisation, Jean-Louis Dumont stresses in his guest blog post that social housing fosters a sense of proximity and belonging between the European Union and its citizens and territories.

In its latest report on the state of the housing market in the European Union, the World Bank warned EU leaders about the consequences of this cause of tension on social and economic cohesion within the Union. It confirmed the conclusions of another report, by the European Commission, acknowledging that investment in social infrastructure, including social housing, had fallen, primarily due to economic and budgetary constraints, leading to social tensions in the Member States. Affordable housing is once again a key issue in all European cities, on the eve of the European elections and the inception of a far-reaching debate over the future of the European Union, prompted by Brexit and the rise of anti-European populism.

And yet, there is extensive evidence from past experience in Europe that investing in social housing fosters a sense of proximity and belonging between the European Union and its citizens and territories and can positively alter its image among them. We have seen this in France, in our buildings and neighbourhoods, where the work accomplished by FEDER and BEI has improved living conditions and reduced heating costs. That’s the kind of useful and concrete innovation that Europe should be fostering.

These best practices should be deployed on a large scale as part of the revision of the cohesion policy in 2021-2027, and as part of President Juncker’s strategic investment plan. To that end, we must be fully involved in the debate that will arise over the future of the European Union, as part of the European elections this coming May. The staging in Lyon, France of the second international festival of social housing organised by Housing Europe, is fully in keeping with this approach, pending the holding of a “European housing summit” that we can only hope for.

L’Union Sociale pour l’Habitat (USH) and Housing Europe want to make affordable housing one of the key issues in the forthcoming European Elections.

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