Denmark's Aalborg East has been part of Housing Europe's PowerPoints and conferences for a couple of years because wherever we go, whomever we speak to, we are always being asked for the same - best practices. In June, the work of Danish social housing provider Himmerland Boligforening was recognised by the European Commission's New European Bauhaus awards for showing that renovations alone are not enough to change a city district.
With Aalborg East in Denmark, Himmerland Boligforening went further and integrated social housing tenants in the strategic city development as well as making them active city planners. An isolated and deprived residential area in Denmark's fourth-largest city had, since its construction in the 1960s and 70s, experienced increasing decline and a negative spiral. The shops closed, people were unhappy, and there was crime and unemployment. But there was also potential - and hope.
Something had to happen, and therefore more than 2,000 affordable homes were included in a major urban transformation project, where homes were renovated, new shops were added, private homes were built and a number of social initiatives were adopted. What was unique was that the residents sat at the table as urban planners. All the way from strategy to implementation, there has been a focus on those who lived in the city and otherwise went about in their everyday life.
And it has succeeded. Now Aalborg East, as the district is called, is an area of well-being with safe areas, no crime, and great economic growth. The driver has been affordable housing and resident democratic processes. In this setting, they will focus on how they have built up methods that can be transferred to other projects throughout Europe - and hopefully, help to create inspiration and well-being for others in difficult situations.
No homes have been demolished, no residents have been displaced. Good, safe solutions have been found.
The social demographic results speak for themselves...
There has been a 50% reduction in energy usage after renovation.
The amount of people in employment has increased by 56% between 2012-2020
The average household income has increased by 36% between 2012-2021 and in the same period, the personal income increased by 37%.
Congrats to Himmerland Boligforening, their prize stands for what they have been doing very well, 'prioritising the places and people that need it the most'. If you would like to learn from them, remember that you can meet the housing provider at one of the meetings of the European Affordable Housing Consortium, SHAPE-EU in the scope of EU's Affordable Housing Initiative.
Find out more about their work in our 2022 European Responsible Housing Awards handbook.