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The 2022 International Social Housing Festival is happening again

14-17 June, Helsinki | Be part of it & host an event

Helsinki, 13 September 2021 | Published in Future of the EU & Housing

The third edition of the International Social Housing Festival (ISHF) will explore housing as the foundation of good life. The time to welcome the international housing community – housing practitioners, policymakers, architects, researchers and tenants – to take part in this critical conversation, ask questions and find answers together has come.

Over the last years, housing policy in most European countries has been increasingly trusted to market forces. The implications are becoming clear all over the world, especially in growing cities that are facing a number of challenges, including financial pressure and population influx.

New realities, including rapid urbanisation, changing lifestyles, globalisation, migration and climate change affect social housing policies on a local and global level. Proactive policies are needed to provide adequate and affordable housing for all.

Adopting a positive and festive perspective that starts with acknowledging the contribution of affordable housing to the overall quality of life of Europeans the International Social Housing Festival #ISHF2022 aims to make the case for the change of course that is needed in the current approach of housing. Decent, affordable housing is a right not a commodity and a long-term investment with high returns. Be it tenure-blind neighbourhoods, ensuring a social mix or erradicating homelessness, Finland has led by example multiple times.


Make sure you join us in Helsinki & apply to host an event by December, 12th 2021.

The Housing Finance and Development Centre of Finland (ARA), in co-operation with the City of Helsinki and Housing Europe look forward to receiving your ideas for events that focus on one of the themes below.

1. People first: quality of housing as quality of living

The changing demographic dynamics and the shift in family types beyond the conventional nuclear family impact the way housing needs to be conceptualized. Adaptable housing solutions that can be matched with support services for different needs become the norm. This is not possible without a housing policy integrated into the wider planning strategies no matter whether their aim is a balanced urban development or to address the challenges of shrinking and rural areas.

The ISHF 2022 will look at ways of improving the quality of housing as a fundamental prerequisite for better quality of living. While public, cooperative and social housing providers are the ones that have been committed for over a century, in many cases, to this mission, that is not necessarily reflected in their public perception. Working with the Press to get the facts and the data straight, countering the stigma, will be the final pixel in the mosaic of this first theme.

2. Achieving affordability and sustainability in housing

The energy transition of the housing sector is a priority towards a sustainable future. The ISHF 2022 will explore how this can be achieved without leaving anyone behind. The challenge is twofold, on the one hand to address the highly alarming phenomenon of energy povertythat touches the lives of more than 50 million households in the European Union, while on the other hand to ensure that the modernization cost is bearable.

To the latter end, the Festival will welcome events that will showcase various experiences with financing solutions to housing, particularly identifying the opportunities that the new role of the European Investment Bank (EIB) as the “EU’s Climate Bank” generates.

Another core question to be addressed is the potential of the district approach, i.e. putting emphasis on the shifting the debate from the building level to the neighbourhood level, in particular sustainable positive energy neighbourhoods.

And since these issues put the sustainability knowhow on the agenda, the Festival aims to be an innovation hub around construction and renovation with a strong focus on circular economy. Contributions from around the world are welcome!  

3. The right to housing: getting rid of the excuses not to guarantee it

The right to housing is recognised by the number of international treaties, including article 25 (1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. However, both national and local authorities have proven to be quite creative when it comes to excuses for not actually guaranteeing it to all citizens. Instead, there is a clear finacialisation trend to be observed around the globe that seems to have set commercial rules for the policy debate around housing.

The ISHF 2022 aims to become an evidence-based, practical guide on how to get ride of the excuses that seem to prevent policymakers from guaranteeing the right to housing to all. In this framework, three main issues will be addressed. In line with the leading Finnish example, priority will be given to abolishing homelessness but also to addressing the exclusion of arriving populations. Secondly, the lineup of events shall illustrate in an equally prominent way the crucial role of the public sector, particularly as far as funding, land management and the policy framework are concerned.

Following up the success of the ‘Collaborative Housing Day’ in Lyon in 2019, the 2022 edition is going to be once again a platform that will showcase the impact of active citizenship in the ways that housing solutions are produced. Community-led housing initiatives, including cooperative housing, Community Land Trusts and co-housing projects from various contexts are invited to share how they secure the right to housing to their beneficiaries.

The programme

The ISHF 2022 festival programme is pieced together during autumn 2021 and will be published when the registration for the festival opens in January 2022. Stay tuned – good things are to come!

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