Benoit Wanzoul sat in the driving seat of Wallonie Logement (SWL) in a very particular moment – in the middle of a world pandemic and in a period when Belgium had one single mission – to cope with COVID-19. Add to this that recently, Belgium broke its own record for the longest period without government, for already over 600 days. Even if the circumstances are extraordinary, securing affordable homes for the most vulnerable remains the main priority.
• I would describe SWL in 10 words as the main institutional provider of public housing policy in Wallonia.
• Our key objective is to implement the policies of the Walloon Government in the field of public housing.
• Apart from managing and renting housing to the most vulnerable and people with middle-income, our mission is to coordinate the development and the renting of a stock of around 101,000 public housing units; to finance public real estate; to assist public service housing companies in the implementation of real estate operations; advise public service housing companies on project development or management; to inspire housing companies through the development of research and innovation in real estate, and social affairs.
• We joined Housing Europe because it is a source of inspiration and valuable information, and because it helps SWL in its drive for continuous improvement. Housing Europe is also a place for the exchange of good practices between European organisations that all have a common goal - the development of social housing. Finally, Housing Europe is an important voice making the link with the European institutions. An example of that is Lyon's call for a society that has access to affordable housing society, launched in June 2019 as part of the International Social Housing Festival.
• Housing is considered to be in Wallonia a priority by the Walloon government which recently decided on a vast renovation plan involving an investment of more than 1.2 billion euros over four years for 25,000 Walloon public housing units.
• Our key partners in the region are the 63 public housing companies in Wallonia.
• Our main housing policy priority is not just a single measure, namely the renovation of 25,000 public housing units. Among other priorities, there is the net increase of 12,000 public housing units for households, including 3,000 new housing units and 3,000 empty public housing units renovated according to the strictest environmental criteria.
• The major challenge for Wallonia today is to respond to the increase in demand for public housing due to several factors including population growth, increased poverty, and the ageing of the population. All of these factors must take environmental issues into account.
• I start my working day by greeting the team and dealing with that is most urgent.
• After leaving the office (that has recently been inviting itself a bit too much at home) I spend the rest of the time reading, walking and doing crafts.
• Currently I am reading “Gut: The Inside Story of Our Body's Most Underrated Organ” by Giulia Enders while listening to The Lumineers.
• I move around by car and when possible on foot or by train.
• I prefer having on my table local bioproducts that are in season.