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Housing and Cities in a time of change

The added value of research is now higher than ever

Brussels, 18 June 2015 | Published in Research
A view of Lisbon where the 2015 ENHR Conference will take place
A view of Lisbon where the 2015 ENHR Conference will take place

The European Network for Housing Research (ENHR) holds its annual conference, the biggest event dedicated to housing research, in Lisbon and raises questions around the significance of people for cities and housing in today’s transformative times. The Housing Europe Observatory will be there and will use the occasion to stress the increasing importance of research for the evidence-based political decisions that affect the affordable housing sector.

Housing may be a competence of the EU member states, but the sector is affected one way or another by various political decisions made at European level. Policy directions shape housing markets and define the financial, energy and social context in countries, cities and neighbourhoods. As housing is the foundation of people’s lives decisions should be made in a responsible way that deters the repetition or the continuation of the crisis that was triggered in 2009. The role of research is therefore vital.

Providing with accurate and up-to-date facts and figures is vital both for the civil society and the policy makers. The debate around housing in the member states should be based on the actual needs and circumstances and not just on ideologies and political rivalries. Housing research may be the sole solid argumentation behind the future of the sector.

Modern reality generates increasingly more complex housing needs and these require policies that should be responsive to the diversity of the housing systems. To this direction the requirements from the housing researchers become higher, too. It is expected from researchers in the field to cross-check housing with other fields to produce findings regarding the interaction of housing with neighbourhoods, with care and support services but also to position housing in the wider financial context of inequality, unemployment and poverty that prevails in many countries.

The Housing Europe Observatory that has recently published “The State of Housing in the EU 2015” report, will continue providing, thanks to its members’ contributions, with an overview of the housing sector in Europe. Housing Europe researchers will be following closely the 2015 ENHR Conference and Housing Europe members will be meeting ENHR representatives to explore the potential of project cooperation and to share research and general future challenges.

The 2015 ENHR Conference

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“Knowing that the resources are limited, have we been giving our best to take the opportunity of this change to make the world more sustainable?

With the new sociological realities that are multiple but that we can identify, are we planning our living world taking in consideration not only the environmental issues but, specially, the quality of living of each one of those we are planning for?

And are we doing it in a fair way, promoting the global access to housing in its many ways?

When we plan urban solutions, replace old solutions for new brand ones and when we decide are we doing it getting the individual person in the centre of the urban scale?”

These are only some of the main questions raised by the European Network for Housing Research that are expected to be discussed at their annual conference that will be held this year in Lisbon. As the organizers state in the event website: “Housing is the main pillar for the prosecution of each one’s life project so each solution we plan when organizing territories or drawing houses should be carefully made in order to create the good living environment where the quality of living is the basilar stone.”

This year’s meet up of the network members is a 4-day event in the Portuguese capital that puts together a multifaceted programme, including plenary sessions, workshops, field trips and a promising “urban safari”, a proposal to an experiential identification with the context in Lisbon, as real as imaginable, that seeks to make use of the raw material of the city, available a priori.

The NHR Colloquium is in the core of the gathering. It will be held on 28th June at ISCTE-IUL and offers PhD students and early career delegates a supportive environment to present full papers, outline methods or work in progress and receive constructive feedback.

Background information on ENHR

This belief was among the reasons that triggered the establishment of the Network back in 1988 with the aim to provide an organizational platform for institutions and individuals in (and outside) Europe, who are actively engaged in housing research. ENHR now has about 1000 individual and nearly 100 institutional members representing almost every country in Europe and beyond.