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.
The fourth episode of the Affordable Housing Initiative series features the voice of Legacoop Abitanti, the Alliance of Italian Cooperatives in the housing sector in Italy. Tune in and hear the views of its President, Rossana Zaccaria. Watch the video and read along.
Housing Europe: What is your vision of the Affordable Housing Initiative?
Rossana Zaccaria: For social housing operators, affordability is always at the core of our mission. We should really think it over of what affordability really is. There are, of course, a lot of data, researches and inputs about the theme. I give you just one point from our Italian context. For example, a recent research, which has been delivered in February, 2021 in a city like Milan, even the social housing offer that has been delivered in the last decade, is not able to cover a target of people with a rent. Almost 20 percent of families in Milan are excluded or don't find an approproate offer of social housing. This has convinced Legacoop Abitanti, which is the national association of inhabitants cooperatives, to carry out a new research of the weak fragile housing demand in Italy to show how it is changing after COVID-19. I hope that by June, we will have new data on the Italian national context, coming out from this research. Social management of housing initiatives in our opinion is the second crucial aspect. We have carried out another research with the Politecnico di Milano University on how we can co-design housing and social services with different actors, and how we can evaluate before and after (expanded and exposed) the social impact. And what we have discovered is that indeed the social housing management is crucial. Building a community requires time and money. Therefore, when we speak about the affordable housing initiative and about the costs that should be covered, I think this is a hidden cost that should be recognised.
Housing Europe: What features should the projects supported by the Affordable Housing Initiative have?
Rossana Zaccaria: Real affordability and social management as a fundamental. As a third point, I would also add inclusive processes. Inclusiveness of the operators that can design and deliver projects, and the second perspective is inclusiveness of inhabitants.
Housing Europe: What process would you like to see?
Rossana Zaccaria: Let's say medium and/or large-scale projects are important. Therefore, in my opinion, the European Union which is evaluating these projects should have a sort of multi-disciplinary skills to evaluate projects. Social skills, architectural skills, economic skills and also financial skills. Small/ medium scale projects are quality projects. It is not so easy to upscale social quality from medium/ small projects to big projects. It is important to have tailored projects, accoring to the needs of inhabitants of that area, that building and that context , to evaluate the impact of the different level of scales.
Housing Europe: How should the initiative be financed?
Rossana Zaccaria: A resilience facility is important to finance the affordable housing initiaive. But at the same time, I belive that to have a really large scale program, a dedicated budget line should be put in place.
Housing Europe: How should the initiative be governed?
Rossana Zaccaria: This start should include also social housing operators, and as I speak from Legacoop Abitanti's point of view, cooperatives have a history and they have a benchmark in delivering and managing social housing projects. So, of course, inhabitants, organisations and cities. There are no inclusive projects without inclusive processes and governance processes.
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.
Initiative Website: https://www.ourhomesourdeal.eu/
Housing Europe Website: https://www.housingeurope.eu/
Legacoop Abitanti Website: http://www.legacoopabitanti.it/