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The sale of social and public housing in Europe

The Housing Europe Observatory with a new research commissioned by l’Union sociale pour l’habitat and Caisse des Dépôts in France

20 January 2021 | Published in Economy, Research, Future of the EU & Housing

The sale of social and public housing has existed in many different forms in Europe for decades and this research is a step towards a better understanding of the experiences of other countries with regard to the sale of social and public housing.

Providers of social and public rental housing currently own tens of millions of homes right across Europe. The post-WWII boom in construction of such dwellings in most countries was broadly sustained up until the late 1970s.

Since then, the sale of social and public housing has been a noticeable feature, with some governments and public authorities seeking to promote (or even impose) such sales, to varying degrees. Sales reflect a broad spectrum of underlying policy objectives and an equally diverse set of national and regional housing situations.

The paper will provide an overview of the sale of social and public housing in 10 selected countries. For five of these countries (Austria, England, Germany, Italy and Sweden), sales and their broader historical and social context will be reviewed in detail. For the rest of the countries (Belgium, Czechia, Estonia, the Netherlands and Scotland), the review will be more high-level in nature.

It also attempts to provide some guidance to housing providers, as well as policymakers, regarding how to potentially structure the sale of housing in a way that is fair and socially sustainable.

This research would not have been possible without the help and input from the members of Housing Europe in each of the 10 countries, who took the time to complete a detailed questionnaire on the topic and engaged in follow-up interviews about how the sales of social and public housing are managed in their respective countries.

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