The Affordable Housing Initiative (AHI) - part of the EU Renovation Wave - that will pilot 100 lighthouse renovation districts focuses on creating quality, liveable, affordable homes for people and will mobilise cross-sectoral project partnerships. The initiative is still a blank page, let’s shape it together.
This first episode features the voice of our member, the Spanish Social Housing Association (AVS). We had a discussion with Maria Montes, Vice President of AVS. Watch the video and read along.
Housing Europe: What is your vision of the Affordable Housing Initiative?
Maria Montes: “I imagine the affordable housing initiative was a turning point, an ambitious initiative supported by the European Commission with the leadership of cooperative, public and social housing providers” and focus it on the potential of housing as the backbone of social inclusion and quality of life. The opinion of the Spanish social housing providers association is that the European commission should commit itself to this initiative and rely on public and social housing providers.
Housing Europe: What features should the projects supported by the Affordable Housing Initiative have?
Maria Montes: The first one is a comprehensive vision and an extended approach. This means that projects should have an impact in the six following areas.
First is “Energy”. A significant improvement on energy performance levels in homes and buildings by using different energy solutions. For example, photovoltaic, renewables and geothermal energy building isolation.
“Accessibility” - the affordable housing initiative is an opportunity to improve the accessibility of manual buildings and wellness in Europe.
The third area is “Innovation”. Not only but mainly optimizing the potential of new technologies to create friendly assisted environments, especially for elderly.
“Urban” or “Urbanism” is a significant transformation of the district’s urban landscape.
The fifth one is “Economic Area”. Projects should act as a catalyst for sustainable, economic activity and employment.
And the last one is “Social”- a radical improvement in people’s autonomy and comfort. And in the creation of safer and more inclusive communities.
The second feature is the effect. Affordable Housing initiative should have the capacity to carry forward other similar activities. The third is a multi-stakeholder initiative. The project should involve all levels of administration in national, regional and local levels - social and public housing providers, private companies, technology centers, the participation of residents and tenants throughout the process. And concerning urban and rural rehabilitation and regeneration initiatives, the national housing plan in Spain is an example of collaboration between different levels of administration, social housing providers and the private sector. During the period in 2018 and 2021, more than 15000 dwellings have been affected by urban and rural regeneration and renovation. 322 million euros has mobilized the impacts in terms of energy efficiency.
Housing Europe: What process would you like to see?
Maria Montes: Only public and social housing providers are able to lead an initiative of this scale and with this integral vision, we know better than anyone else that managing public and social housing is not just about deliver the keys of dwellings, but also is about deploying a whole range of value-added services around housing. We are talking about health services, employment services, information about energy consumptions, social inclusion, digitalization and homelessness support through housing programs, etc. I think this is the real core business of many housing association, public and social housing providers across Europe. Social and public housing providers are also owners of a large stock and we can use this stock as a large laboratory for developing innovative initiatives.
Housing Europe: How should the initiative be financed?
Maria Montes: Different size of district should be eligible for financing. For example, I am thinking about 500 and 1000 dwellings per district. I believe that this initiative is a medium and long-term investment whose return will come from the generation of economic activity, the increase of employment, the improvement of people's quality of life and affordable cost for living and the reduction of energy consumption.
Housing Europe: How should the initiative be governed?
Maria Montes: I would say a committee, made up of experts from the European Commission, from European Investment Bank, the federation of social, cooperative and public housing, and even the participation in this extreme committee of tenants organizations. I think there are good examples of governance of this initiative.
What is your vision for the Affordable Housing Initiative? Join the series powered by Housing Europe, the Federation for public, cooperative and social housing providers in Europe, and its initiative - #OurHomesOurDeal. Contact us.
Our Homes, Our Deal Website: https://www.ourhomesourdeal.eu/
AVS Website: https://gestorespublicos.org/