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Housing providers take their share of responsibility

The European Initiative for Responsible Housing

Brussels, 4 September 2014 | Social, Urban

The ERHIN project concludes its first year heading towards the 1st edition of the European Responsible Housing Awards. On this occasion we will be running a blog series that aims to familiarize you with the notion of "responsible housing".

Thanks to the ERHIN project over the last year we’ve had the opportunity to reflect on what it means for a housing provider to be “responsible”. We did so alongside with our members, federations of cooperative, public and social housing providers as well as housing organisations who are frontrunners in CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) and sustainability across Europe.

Most importantly, we did it together with a number of key stakeholders, representing the perspective of tenants associations led by the International Union of Tenants (IUT), of social NGOs, family organisations, of professionals in real estate development and management, of local authorities. We’ve had the chance to exchange views with European banks and institutions around this question, and to benefit from the expertise of the project coordinator, Delphis, a French association leader in promoting innovation in the social housing sector.

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What we came up with is a joint commitment as expressed in the ERHIN Joint Declaration and a shared vision of responsibility, covering five key areas including local social sustainability, environment, economic responsibility and sustainability, good governance and fair relations to stakeholders, responsible human resources management.

What does this mean concretely for the housing sector?

As shown by some 70 outstanding examples collected from different countries, this can translate for instance, if we recall one of them, into applying social and environmental clauses to the way a housing provider does procurement, or thinking of creative ways to involve its residents and constantly strive to empower them, for instance by offering skills development and work opportunities.

On the other hand it may mean, as seen in another project, establishing a real partnership with associations and service providers in the neighbourhood to deliver better services in a more efficient way. Another aspect implies also reducing energy consumption and use of natural resources in cooperation with residents and using more eco-friendly construction materials and techniques.

How to bring all these ideas together and put them into practice? The project produced some tools to help our sector towards achieving sustainability and to steer the innovation process: a roadmap for future as well as a Code of Conduct setting out a number of concrete guidelines, which a number of housing providers have already signed up to - and we remain optimistic that many more will join them in the future!

The best projects – selected by a jury composed by the different stakeholder organizations - will receive an Award during the project closing event which is going to take place on the International Tenants’ Day on October 6th.

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