The Housing Partnership published its first deliveries on better regulation and better knowledge today as concrete steps towards the draft action plan.
On this occasion, Elena Szolgayova, coordinator of the Housing Partnership and Director General for Housing Policy and Urban Development in the Slovak Ministry of Transport and Construction, invited interested third parties to actively contribute. "We are aware that nearly 82 million European citizens cannot afford decent housing at a reasonable price anymore. And we know that many cities have problems to meet the growing demand, or to sustain the existing stock which have come to the end of their life-cycle, as investment potential is blocked due to many factors. Cities, regions and countries throughout the EU and beyond are in search of solutions for more affordable and sustainable housing for their citizens. We wish to make a contribution to these efforts through very practical recommendations and guidelines that will be able to de-block investment potential for affordable housing. “
The deliveries in a nutshell:
Guidance on EU Regulation and Public Support for Housing
A "Guidance Paper on EU Regulation and Public Support for Housing” has been elaborated by the Partnership on the basis of an in-depth analysis and thorough screening of the situation both in old and new Member States.
The paper led to three deliveries in the process of the elaboration of its draft action plan:
- The "general guidance" is a contribution to better understanding of the problems cities and other authorities face in their investment ability with regard to the current EU state aid/competition rules. It depicts the negative effects on investment in affordable housing (both new and existing) due to a lack of legal clarity and certainty and depicts solutions on practical and legal level.
- The second is a "capacity building workshop" for practitioners, policy makers and legislators from cities, regions, MS and EU institutions in order to collect and exchange experiences in that field in a structured way.
- The third is a recommendation to undertake the general revision of the SGEI decision (technically foreseen in the document for 2017) in order to enable the acceptance of sustainable goals like social mix and social cohesion as valid public policy objectives, when defining social housing. The prevailing definition of the too narrow target group for social housing should be assessed in a broader context, as its recent interpretation often leads to legal uncertainty.
Elena Szolgayova: “In this field, the Housing Partnership is interested to learn through the public feedback if other cities, policy makers, legislators, social/affordable housing providers, tenants´ organizations and EU institutions share the opinion that more clarity and certainty is needed in order to de-block investment so urgently needed to build new and renew existing affordable housing for city populations.”
Toolkit for Affordable Housing Policy
In order to meet the need for more information on affordable housing solutions, the Housing Partnership identified two actions as instruments to help cities, housing providers and others to develop projects and policies:
This "toolkit for affordable housing" consists of a database to be further developed both content-wise and technically. An interesting aspect for feedback in the online survey will be to identify and prioritize possible elements of governance (e.g. diversity of supply systems, tenants´ protection etc.).
The other is a guidance for policy making to enable cities (and possibly other authorities) to develop not only good housing projects, but also good housing policies. The European Responsible Housing Initiative (ERHIN) as well as the Geneva UN Charter on sustainable housing could serve as already agreed upon sets of guidelines. An idea to be shared with others is whether the categories identified as crucial for decent housing in the context of Corporate Social Responsibility and fair as well as ethical housing production could also serve as guidelines to EU funding and other financial instruments on EU-level.
Elena Szolgayova: ”Here, the Housing Partnership is interested to hear from cities, policy makers, legislators, funding experts, social/affordable housing providers, tenants´ organizations and EU institutions if they think that such guidance would be useful in their own project and policy development and whether it could be linked to EU funding and loans for housing.”