During this year’s fully virtual European Week of Regions and Cities, the Urban Agenda for the EU Partnership on Housing was present as one of the key speakers of the workshop ‘How to implement the right to housing?’ organised by URBACT and UIA on Wednesday 14 October 2020.
Governments across Europe have invested unprecedented efforts to keep those at risk safe, with cities implementing exceptional strategies and measures to keep everyone housed. This session explored cities’ engagement in the design of housing policies and solution to implement the right to housing. This engagement can push the agenda on the right to housing in Europe and further enrich the work under the Urban Agenda for the EU.
The role of States
States and cities play a key role when it comes to decent housing.
Michaela Kauer, Coordinator of the Housing Partnership made a powerful contribution. “I don’t want this to be a silent return of the States in the housing sector”, she says, “I want this to be a very loud, clear, and sustainable return of the States into the housing sector”.
A point of view supported by the following speaker, Federica de Pace, who presented the study of OECD ‘Housing amid COVID-19: Impact, Policy responses and Challenges’.
States have already done a lot in terms of relief measures such as eviction suspension, rent deferment and forbearance of mortgages. But when looking at the future, the study showed that it would be important to phase out emergency support measures wherever conditions allow for it and to prepare for long-term consequences of COVID-19 on housing demand.
The solutions discussed
Some solutions to increase housing affordability in renting markets in the long-term were offered by Barbara Steenbergen, the Head of EU Office and International Union of Tenants. She talked about public procurement, ethical financing, and implementing a quota for affordable housing for building projects.
The pandemic has shown that we need to reimagine the urban future and find a way to connect the local challenges with European level policymaking agrees Silvia Ganzerla, Policy Direct at Eurocities. This was a point of view shared by Bent Madsen, the President from Housing Europe. He focused on the fact that the issues in the housing sector can only be resolved by working together with local authorities and involving the people themselves.
A turning point
The common thread throughout the workshop was how to use the COVID-19 pandemic as a turning point, changing how housing was used as a commodified good and turning it into a concept of well-being and a basic right for all. The pandemic openly demonstrates some of the weakest aspects of the housing sector, but also the high importance of this sector. It has become clear that the EU, States, regions, or cities can give support in many elements in the housing sector, and that this is necessary. The crisis is a call for us to act faster and be more efficient.
Click here to watch the session.