Cities need stable structures for exchange
On better knowledge, the partnership has elaborated several strands of actions, targeted to cities, Member States and the European Commission. For cities and affordable housing providers, an IT-database has been created by the members and will be maintained by Housing Europe. A guidance brochure on urban housing solutions has been produced by the City of Vienna with contributions from the partnership and currently a city-to-city- exchange network on municipal housing schemes is being set up for 2019-2020. “This is promising, but it has become clear that cities need stable and structured instruments and programmes for exchange on housing policy and practice,” said Susanne Bauer, City of Vienna and Chair of the Working Group Housing of EUROCITIES.
Better EU urban housing market database gender dimension in affordability
Better knowledge also concerns the EU urban housing market database, which need to be improved according to the partnership. In this context, an action is formulated by the partnership to mainstream the gender dimension in affordability, starting with a concrete proposal to work on the female side of energy poverty. “We are proud to be the first partnership to deliver a clear gender focussed action,” says coordinator Michaela Kauer. On an institutional level, an action is addressed to the European Commission to create a “Monitoring system for affordable housing in the EU”. Member States are urged to reinstall the “Housing Focal Points” and Informal Meetings of Housing Ministers. “This would enable countries to continuously observe the developments in the housing sector, which is so vital for the quality of life of our citizens,” said coordinator Elena Szolgayová.
Toolbox for good housing policy
Following the task given to it in the Pact of Amsterdam, Housing Partnership elaborated a general recommendation on good housing policy on local,national and EU level in eight priority areas. They focus on eight core themes for policy development in the housing sector and should be seen as a “toolbox”, as not all recommendations will fit all housing situations all the time, given the diversity of systems and traditions in European countries, regions and cities. An approved solution in one context may work in another city, region or country, but as governance context and housing systems vary substantially, the proposed recommendations are seen as inspirational and in full respect of the principle of subsidiarity. The priority themes address:
Protection of vulnerable groups – by a revised definition of the housing cost overburden rate, with a new reference threshold at 25% of the disposable income.Anti-speculation - apartment holiday rentals constitute a threat to the available housing stock in cities, it is necessary to improve and update the enforcement of legislation in this context.Renovation and energy efficiency – there is a need to prevent “renovictions” as renovations should not lead to massive increases in rent or excessive extra burden.Co-ownership, co-management and co-design can produce financial, service, social and community benefits by residents’ and tenants’ involvement.Spatial planning - planning obligations are an instrument that requires or encourages the inclusion of a quota of affordable units in new residential development projects can be favourable to secure more affordable housing.Land use and building ground – to speed up the development of affordable housing schemes limited profit (federal/communal) entities and “land development/housing funds” are valid instruments, amongst others.Rent stabilization and control – the establishment of local comparable rent systems have been proven a useful tool to stabilize prices.Security of tenancy – security of tenure and affordability should be binding conditions when public funding is provided to finance rental housing, urban renewal and energy efficient renovations measures. To secure these rights, low threshold legal dispute resolutions as rent tribunals are effective instruments.
Good practice: The European Responsible Housing Initiative
ERHIN was one of the first sector-based and European-wide Corporate Social Responsibility schemes co-funded by the European Commission. DELPHIS, Housing Europe and the International Union of Tenants have joined forces to develop CSR among European social and affordable housing organisations. Housing Partnership endorsed ERHIN as a good practice as its principles and examples showcased contribute substantially to social and affordable housing.
Background and links
The work of the Housing Partnership is documented on its website. The full text of the Action Plan is now published as well as a brief description. A range of documents has been produced by the members and the expert of the partnership or commissioned to research institutes, which can be found in the annexes of the Action Plan.
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