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Ad Hoc Working Group Review

Report on meetings in 2017-2019

Brussels, 13 March 2019 | Published in Housing Systems in Transition

Ministry Experts from the Czech Republic, Latvia and Slovakia but public body representatives from Cyprus and Hungary as well as international organisations like Habitat for Humanity and the Union for the Mediterranean have contacted Housing Europe asking for help in shaping the future of their housing systems. Since 2017, three meetings have taken place bringing together the interested parties with Practitioners from the Housing Europe Membership and beyond, International Financial Institutions, the Academia, as well as Independent experts. Already missions have taken place to Cyprus and Armenia while more are on the pipeline.

November 2017- first meeting in Prague, in cooperation with the Ministry of Social Affairs

This kick-off meeting was an important milestone in supporting Housing Europe Members, Partners but also organizations from other countries who have expressed an interest in addressing urgent housing needs on the ground. The meeting highlighted the necessity to start engaging know-how from the front line.

In the beginning of the first meeting, Housing Europe consulted the interested organisations on the most crucial topics that the Group need to focus on. Among others, the following topics have been identified:

  • Political housing strategies management models of social housing; collaborative housing
  • Building evidence based housing policy (target groups, tenure)
  • Expertise in evaluation of housing programmes targeting vulnerable groups
  • Housing as an integral aspect of urban development
  • Practical examples to support emerging housing organisations
  • Policy instruments and financial mechanisms for multi-family housing; renovation finance
  • Social inclusion measures and training of housing managers
  • Testing social mix at local level
  • Changing the mind-set of the general public about the showing the positive impact of social housing
  • Mitigation and adaptation activities
  • Sustainability of the social housing system as part of an inclusive and smart city   

The results therefore shaped the Agenda and topics of the next meetings.

As the first meeting was co-organised by the Ministry of Social Affairs of the Czech Republic-who requested the Group’s support-, topics of relevance were presented and discussed.

Firstly, a seminar was provided on State aid rules and the application for housing organizations.

Further, the on-going discussions on the Czech housing system took place together with questions on how to start implementing social Inclusion through housing. The Ministry also presented its new project that aims to give Methodical and Informational Support to municipalities.

Moreover, funding opportunities for energy efficiency renovation and the set-up of a Pool of experts were also explored. Finally, the roundtable discussion on national experiences, existing expertise, and expectations was key in helping to define the next steps of the collaboration.

Concerning the main outcomes, the participants suggested that more Eastern- European countries should be invited to ensure balance. Also, inviting European Commission Representatives to next meetings can bring the EU level perspective.

More details


June 2018-Second meeting in Tallinn, in cooperation with EKYL, Estonian Member of Housing Europe

The second meeting went more into detail of financing opportunities for urban rehabilitation, especially focusing on the loans and project development assistance offered by the European Investment Bank (EIB), and Council of Europe Development Bank (CEB) to address the investment gap in order to deliver housing for all.

Secondly, the why and how’s of the evidence-based policy making was explored with the help of Evidence Hubs in the UK and Scotland. Also, UNECE, Housing and Land Management Unit gave an overview on how they promote evidence-based policy for the Eastern region on national and regional level such as:

  • Country profiles- in total 20 Total 20 and Preparation of National Action Plans to support implementation of recommendations
  • Regional observatory on urban related SDGs and the Geneva UN Charter at SDG Helpdesk web portal. This online knowledge hub includes e-learning, e-library, thematic forums
  • Training materials and trainings on data for SDGs
  • Network of Geneva UN Charter Centres of Excellence
  • Guidance document for the implementation of 2030 Agenda with best practices from countries
  • Policy paper on data collection for review 2030 Agenda implementation 

Finally, three study visits were organised to recent renovation and construction projects of EKYL, Member of Housing Europe:

  • Study visit 1: Exemplary Multi-Apartment Building Renovation in Estonia -campus of Tallinn Technical University (TTU)
  • Study visit 2: Estonia’s largest real estate development: a total makeover from soviet-time building to one of the fanciest apartment buildings in Tallinn
  • Study visit 3: Municipal housing in Tallinn, example of a “Teachers’ Home”           

More details


November 2018- Third meeting in Bratislava, in cooperation with Habitat for Humanity

On 15 November 2018, our new Ad-hoc Working Group on Housing systems in transition came together for the third time on the premises of the Habitat for Humanity Office in Bratislava.

The Group discussed the following topics:

• Housing microfinance services, housing as tackling poverty – which was presented by Habitat for Humanity International. Housing projects in Eastern Europe were presented that included the details of microfinance services, Building and repairing homes with the help of volunteers, Disaster risk reduction and response, and Residential energy efficiency as well as Housing of vulnerable groups especially the Roma.

• Financing schemes towards residential energy efficiency- The participants learned more about the financial engineering behind some concrete projects such as the Slovak model of the State Housing Development Fund and the Jessica programme which supports individual owners in multifamily apartments. Habitat for Humanity also presented the financial models of the small-scale retrofitting projects of Habitat.

• Financial assistance for capacity building- Training activities in Eastern Europe and Central Asia were presented by IWO that focused on refurbishment of residential buildings, energy efficiency, supporting reforms in the housing sector and professional housing management. Following on from this, Housing Europe presented an overview on the EU financial assistance opportunities to build the necessary knowledge on national and local level.

Finally, a study visit to a recent refurbishment project in Bratislava took place.

The project is situated in the old town on Vazovova Street and received finance by the State Housing Development Fund. It was carried out as comprehensive refurbishment of the residential building, i.a. thermal insulation of the building, windows replacement, elevator replacement, modernization of infrastructure in common spaces of the building, etc.

More details

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April 2019-Forth meeting in Tallinn, with the support of the Council of Europe Development Bank (CEB)

The Group worked on the three following topics during that meeting:

  • Different housing models and their added value (social rental agencies, cooperatives, associations)
  • Financing models of CEB tools, ELENA programme, and national schemes for apartment buildings
  • Inclusion measures of housing providers-The session focused on an integrative approach , thus working towards sustainable neighbourhoods through housing, education and social services

In the afternoon, a project matchmaking between potential beneficiaries and CEB/EIB experts took place in order to discuss project ideas in detail.

More details after the meeting

November 2019-Fith meeting in Athens

Beyond the meetings- Impact of Housing Europe in countries with housing systems in transition

  • Mission to Cyprus -January 2018
    • Invited by CLDC (Cyprus Land Development Corporation), Housing Europe met key policymakers in the field of affordable housing to discuss the challenges and opportunities to deliver an effective policy. One of the most crucial problem stressed was how to find solutions to the housing needs and energy poverty
    • In June 2018, CLDC became a Member of Housing Europe to be able to benefit the policy advice and learning more about successful projects of other Members.
    • From December 2018, CLDC is contributing to the drafting of the national housing strategy and its implementation.

More info

  • Mission to Armenia-April 2018
    • Housing Europe was invited to Yerevan by its Armenian member, ASBA, the National Social Housing Association of Armenia to support them at series of meetings and at awareness raising events on energy poverty.
    • The visit was of particular importance because it gave Housing Europe the opportunity to learn more about the problems and the needs of its Members in the EU Neighbourhood which can also allow us to deliver more targeted support to these countries in the framework of the Working Group in support of countries with housing systems in transition.

More info

  • Ministerial Experts included into the Group-June 2018
    • Thanks to the cooperation with UNECE, Housing and Land management Department, dedicated Experts from Balkan and Baltic countries participated at the first time in the meeting of June 2018, Tallinn. They contributed to further discovering the local needs and started exchanging with their peers.
  • Mission to the Czech Republic-November 2018
    • After linking the Czech Ministry to best practices of Western Europe, Housing Europe also participated in the final conference about the first social Housing Programme in the Czech Republic. We stressed the high social impact of Housing First projects and were showing success stories from Northern Europe that monetized the avoided costs.
    • Important development that the City of Prague became interested to continue and upscale its social housing programme.
    • Discussing with stakeholders made it clear that there is more need to work on changing the mind-set of the general public.
  • Financial support of CEB -April 2019
    • Due to its willingness to invest in affordable housing in new regions, CEB contributed to the Meeting of April 2019 in order to help speeding up the project development.
    • Further financial support is subject to case-by-case negotiation.
  • Project matchmaking starts between potential beneficiaries and CEB & EIB -April 2019
    • Beyond the support to the housing system reforms, the Group also started exploring the pipeline of projects that are awaiting support and created space for the promoters and experts of CEB and EIB to discuss the potential of financing.
    • Discussions are on-going with housing organisation of Slovakia, Italy and Czech Republic.