Housing Partnership delivers next set of actions for public feedback

Elena Szolgayová (Slovakia) and Michaela Kauer (Vienna), coordinators of the Partnership on Affordable Housing in the frame of the Urban Agenda for the EU, informed today that the next set of actions is online on the European Commission´s website for public feedback. “We are happy to present the results of our work since last summer, when we delivered the first actions on better regulation and better knowledge,” said Elena Szolgayová, “in total, we have developed 13 actions which will be finalised after summer and integrated in the action plan of the partnership.” The new actions have a focus on better funding and financing conditions, better knowledge and lead to better governance. “This set of actions and recommendations will help to secure a structural and institutional attention for affordable housing on EU level” as Michaela Kauer highlighted.  “Such attention is highly needed” she continued “given the annual investment gap of 57 billion Euro in the sector and the fact that housing cost overburden has reached middle-income households in the aftermath of the Global Financial Crisis”” as Michaela Kauer pointed out. A detailed background paper is available in the consultation as well on the website.

 

Actions on better funding and financing conditions in a nutshell

Action 1: Recommendations on EU-Funding of Affordable Housing

This action has been elaborated on the basis of a survey carried out by the Housing Partnership, two studies and proposals of the subgroup Finances and Funding as well as expertise and briefing papers from members. After a general chapter with recommendations on cohesion policy elaborated by one of the members which were endorsed by the partnership, there is a brief mention of the new proposals of the InvestEU programme.

In a second part, Capacity Building for Affordable Housing financing on national, regional and local level is identified as vital because often access to funding is limited when structures to absorb are missing. On this, Housing Partnership is especially interested to develop this further after feedback from a wider community.

 

Action 2: To improve the European Semester procedure to better reflect diverse housing tenures, fragmentation of the housing markets and housing need and support better financing conditions for Affordable Housing

“How  can the European Semester procedures contribute to create better financing conditions for affordable housing?” was a question that Housing Partnership set out as one of its priorities as public, social, municipal, cooperative and other forms of affordable funding are primarily financed through national, regional or local finance sources and by the consumers. Cohesion policy and EIB loans are substantial add-ons, but given the scale of the sector and the necessary investment in affordable housing for citizens in – often growing – cities and urban areas, Housing Partnership has identified paths forward in the existing framework to allow for more public investment, which is in line with the recommendations of the High-Level Task Force on Investment in Social Infrastructure. Therefore, Housing Partnership addresses the European Semester and its main mechanisms – the Housing Price Index, Country-Specific Recommendations, the Social Scoreboard and the use of the investment clause in this action.

 

The actions on better knowledge and governance in a nutshell

Action 3: Recommendations on Good Housing Policy on local, regional, national and EU level

In this action, Housing Partnership sums up its discussions prepared by the sub-group “General Housing Policy” and its members on a range of topics relevant to good housing policy for different levels of government. Recommendations are formulated in a very open way, as an “one size fits all” approach is inappropriate given the differences in housing traditions and needs throughout the EU, its cities and regions. Topics covered are protection of vulnerable groups, anti-speculation, renovation and energy efficiency, co-management and co-design, spatial planning, land use and building ground, rent stabilisation and control and security of tenure. Housing Partnership makes reference on the issue of short let platforms under the “anti-speculation” theme as this poses a major problem to many cities since a few years and raises the point of the rights of the consumers and fair and transparent relationships in the sector. In general, this action can be seen as a . In this, Housing Partnership reflects the .

 

Action 4: Exchange Programme for Urban Housing Responsibles

As it is vital to secure exchange and knowledge transfer in order to learn from each other, but often resources are lacking, especially on city level, Housing Partnership has continued to elaborate on this issue in line with the summer 2017 actions and proposes to explore how a “Knowledge Exchange ERASMUS + for Affordable Housing” could be set up. Furthermore, an idea to establish an “Action Planning Network for Affordable Housing.” Housing Partnership is looking forward to hear more ideas on this from urban and other affordable housing actors through the public feedback.

 

Action 5: Recommendation on improvement of EU Urban housing markets data to cover and map housing prices (rent/purchase) at regional and city levels

At a very early stage, Housing Partnership identified a knowledge gap with regard to housing market data on subnational levels and asked how to improve and expand housing market data at regional and city levels. With such data, it will be possible to establish an EU database mapping housing prices (rent and purchase) on the sub-national levels (regions and cities). The aim is to provide comparable housing prices data for rent and purchase  across all housing tenures and to allow for better evidence-based policy development in several fields.

 

Action 6: Gender Dimension in Affordability/Energy Poverty

This action advocates for advancing knowledge on gender-energy-poverty nexus by making gender-disaggregated data available to inform policy development. The housing sector - as ‘the place’ of households’ energy consumption - is central in this process. The access to systematically collected gender-disaggregated data on gender-energy-poverty nexus in housing would enable more strategic approach in addressing the underlying challenges that perpetuate energy poverty among women and especially among the vulnerable groups of women (e.g. single women. single women, elderly women).

 

Action 7: Monitoring System for Affordable Housing in the European Union

This action aims to establish a monitoring system on how existing and future EU instruments can contribute to produce more affordable housing on local and regional level. Implementation of integrated affordable housing policies can contribute to economic recovery while at the same time benefitting EU citizens with better living conditions and thus build European added value in a bottom-up / top-down approach. Housing Partnership identifies 3 main fields of monitoring:

  • Funding & Financing Conditions: use of cohesion policy for affordable housing, EIB instruments, smart blending of funding instruments, aggregators role
  • Knowledge & Data: housing overburden data and comprehensive affordability indicators, gender dimension of affordability, energy poverty
  • Governance: citizen participation, consumer rights and local leadership

Priority areas are identified as well for the monitoring:

  • Production of new affordable housing
  • Renewal of existing housing stocks
  • Community-led Urban Development
  • Land Use and Building Ground
  • Setting up Affordable Housing Schemes

This is an action that is clearly linked to a structural and institutional attention on affordable housing on EU level with a multi-governance approach.

 

Action 8: Housing Focal Points and Informal Ministerial Meetings on Housing

Housing Partnership sees the role of Member States as crucial to enable and secure affordable housing on a tenure-neutral basis for all citizens. This regards legislation as well as funding and other instruments. Housing Partnership met representatives of Member States for housing at the Geneva meeting in 2017, which was valuable and fruitful. In order to facilitate learning from international experiences and to improve information exchange on national policy options, an informal meetings´ framework of the EU Member States’ housing ministers and their key administration staff (National Focal Points on Housing Policy – Housing Focal Points - HFP) has been established in 1990s. Meetings were organized on a regular basis; however this regularity was interrupted after 2010. Since then, several meetings were organized only infrequently and irregularly (2012, 2016 and 2017). Building upon the experiences of the Housing Partnership with the involvement of Member States, cities and stakeholders, it is proposed that the network of Housing Policy Focal Points is re-established in order to ensure a mechanism for the exchange of information and knowledge and to scale-up monitoring of affordable housing need and policies in the Member States of the EU. At a time when more investment is needed in the affordable housing sector, this high level network will support the facilitation of knowledge exchange and understanding at national, regional and city level with regard to specific affordable housing issues, data collection needs and policy development actions.

 

Read the Consulation paper here.

See:

THEME 1: Better funding and financing conditions

THEME 2: Better knowledge and governance

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