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Social Housing in Europe


Brussels, 27 March 2010 | Published in Research

What is social housing?

According to the National Housing Development Plan 2008-2013, social housing in Estonia consists of rented housing provided mainly by municipalities to households in need and in disadvantaged situation, who are unable to secure housing for themselves and their families. It should be pointed out though that often the term „social housing“ is used with a wider meaning in national housing support programmes, to include residential buildings and housing associations. Due to the high privatization rate, a large part of less advantaged groups are owners of their dwellings and live in condominiums organized in housing associations, about 60% per cent of the population are members of such associations. Social rental housing in Estonia currently represents only about 1% of the total housing stock in the country and the overall rental sector is very small. About 96% of the dwelling stock is currently in private ownership.

Who provides social housing?

Local governments are responsible for evaluating the need for social housing services and provide housing to those in need. Rental social housing is currently provided only by municipalities, despite the fact that the legal framework would allow for other types of providers as well.

How is social housing financed?

Social housing is financed by municipalities through transfers from the central government or through grants provided by the Estonian Credit and Export Guarantee Fund (KredEx), a public limited company which can finance up to 50% of a project cost. In 2006, 81% of the funding for housing services came from local government budgets, 18% was own financing by the recipients and 1% came from the state budget. Furthermore, the state allocates housing allowances to unemployed people and to families with many children. People with very low income can get support for utilities payment like electricity, water, etc.

Who can access social housing?

Access to the service is organised via social welfare departments of local district administrations all over Estonia. In 2006, the number of inhabitants in social dwellings was 4020 (1394 in Tallinn). Out of a total 1682 inhabitants in social housing in 2006, 1630 were of pension age and 1070 were persons with special needs.