Housing Europe News 📬 June 2022 
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The International Social Housing Festival through our lenses

A city the housing world looks up to, reconnecting after almost three years of working from the screen, passion to deliver affordable and future-proof decent housing, sharing new challenges and experiences, one-to-one opportunities to re-connect, sunshine and seagulls. This was the third International Social Housing Festival (ISHF).

After two years of planning, from the 14th to the 17th June 2022, it was finally showtime. 🚀

About 1,000 public, cooperative, social housing providers, city authorities, EU policymakers, bankers, urbanists, architects, and researchers came to Helsinki to celebrate smart housing policies and discuss how we can overcome the multiple challenges ahead of the sector.

The Festival explored housing as the foundation of good life. It brought together three main themes and linked the public, cooperative, social, community-led housing sector to the rest of the vast world around it, making it clear that housing can never stand on its own.

"Homes but also neighbourhoods and communities must all be part of a housing policy and we need to be closely in touch with the people living there to further develop the housing policies in our countries. In many cases and states, national social policies still fail at delivering social support to the most vulnerable. It is not only the bricks we are looking at within housing. We have to clearly understand what we are doing with social interventions when developing human infrastructure development and working on spatial planning. This is what the welfare state and housing policy need to be about and we need to see a clear connection between housing and the welfare state in times of a housing crisis," Housing Europe's President, Bent Madsen said at the opening ceremony.

Housing Europe's Secretary General, Sorcha Edwards stressed that “the Festival wakes us up about what works well and what models need to be revamped, being aware helps us to avoid accidents because mistakes in housing policy take a long time to have an impact, and getting together is an opportunity to learn and tackle challenges collectively.” 

During the 2022 edition, Housing Europe led or co-organised 16 events, looking for solutions to new-age youth housing, decarbonisation, homelessness prevention, circularity, data and AI for buildings, green roofs, and responsible housing. The attendees of our sessions could also visit our stands, join a #Housing2030-proof tour, attend the Responsible Housing Awards ceremony, and watch inspiring films produced by BBC StoryWorks.

We have done our best to summarise and illustrate these exciting four days in the report below.

Enjoy the read!

To the #ISHF2022 report 👈🏻

What if...we imagined Next Generation housing with the youth?

The young people of today are worried about becoming adults. Why is that? One of the most worrying questions for today’s young people in many countries is how to find quality affordable homes at places where work is. The solutions to this problem were discussed during Housing Europe’s Annual Conference called “What if...we imagined Next Generation housing with the youth?” on June 16th. Watch the recording.

Our President, Bent Madsen kicked off the conference with an important theme that he called “housing for welfare”, giving the example of his home country, Denmark.

Even if online, we were pleased to be joined by the first elected EU Youth Coordinator, Biliana Sirakova whose role is to connect key players working with young people with the EU institutions and the policies they are shaping. She said that the EU is preparing a new initiative, a social inclusion scheme offering coaching, counseling, supervised stay abroad, and continuous support to the most vulnerable youth who can this way expand their opportunities in all spheres of life including housing.

The President of the Socialists and Democrats Group at the European Parliament, Iraxte Garcia Perez also said that “enough is enough” and that it is time to find a solution to the housing problem. “Conferences like this are of importance for putting the pressure on public authorities to make housing options and life of people better,” she stressed.

In the first panel dedicated to the decarbonisation of housing, Edo Omic, a Senior Economist at the CEB explained that while the bank would have the capacity to finance new projects, the capacity at local level that is necessary to implement the project is sometimes missing. “That is why a part of the financial support is dedicated to developing the institutional scope and the technical assistance, for the project to be implemented and sustainable in the long-term,” he said.

The Councilwoman for housing in Lisbon, Filipa Roseta promised that she will work on re-inventing the cooperative housing movement together with the youth in the Portuguese capital. The city administration is in the process of choosing suitable land to build on and then lend it to young people to build on it for 90 years. While the initiative sounds inspiring, especially for a city with enormous housing problems, there are several challenges ahead of it, especially in the design of the rules that will identify who is selected. The current criteria will look at youth’s financial situation, social sustainability, and their willingness to take on a social project, as well as environmental sustainability.

After amazing members at our last Working Committees in March, Housing Europe’s Board Member, Christian Krainer from GBV (Austria) shared the modular Kiubo approach with ISHF participants. Kiubo is a recent company and an original idea that attaches or detaches 25m2 building blocks to a home, allowing flats to quickly become bigger or smaller – an approach that particularly fits into young people’s dynamic lifestyles.

“Houses need to be reconstructed and renovated, sometimes totally changed. However, the way to do it is important, so people do not lose touch with their place,” Fatih de Vos, a sociologist, a rap singer who is working with the youth community in Ghent, Belgium said. Fatih shared his personal experience as someone who grew up in social housing in Flanders and one could easily see that his honesty grabbed the audience. He raised the mismatch between supply and demand that causes ever-increasing waiting lists for social housing while young people are in a very precarious situation. Keep on reading about the event on pages 10-16.

The winners of the European Responsible Housing Awards in 2022 

More than 180 social and affordable housing providers, representatives of tenant organisations, policymakers, and academics celebrated the 2022 European Responsible Housing Awards.

Bent Madsen, President of Housing Europe, highlighted that every application is a winner in one way or another, as inspiration and examples to look up to are essential for the sector. He then did a quick tour of what each awards category stands for and encouraged the audience to spread the innovative examples that were presented.

Meet the winners! 


💫 Winner: Yes We Rent! - Leveraging vacant private property to build up a cooperative affordable housing scheme | Mataró City Council, Spain

“Lloguem!/ Yes We Rent” aims at generating an accessible housing stock targeting low-to-medium income households using properties that have been left empty and off the market. With the offer of guaranteed rent and financial and organisational support to renovate their properties, the project incentivises risk-averse owners to rent to the affordable housing scheme at below-market prices. Link to video


💫Winner: Achtercairn, Gairloch: Regenerating A Rural Highland Community | Communities Housing Trust, Scotland

Communities across the Highlands in Scotland have suffered depopulation, loss of services, and have been faced with challenges of increasing tourism and house prices. The small village of Gairloch sits on the coast of Wester Ross and has about 750 inhabitants who benefit from a community-led development tailored to local and long-term needs coordinated by the Communities Housing Trust (CHT). Achtercairn is a real community-driven project which is providing numerous benefits for the inhabitants, such as employment opportunities, meeting space, and a local café with a circular idea and beyond all: affordable homes. Link to video.


💫 Winner: Bertelotte student residence: Bio-based transformation of office space into student accommodation, Paris | Paris Habitat, France

The transformation of the unused office building into the Bertelotte student residence was the opportunity for Paris Habitat to innovate in terms of construction practices and to contribute to the achievement of its climate commitments.

The project tackled different matters at the same time: technical innovation (bio-based material was used for the renovation), transformation of the building, and quality of life by investing into large common spaces for students and providing affordable rent price. Link to video.


💫 Winner: Empowering tenants to co-create a strategic urban transformation, Aalborg | Himmerland Boligforening, Denmark

Himmerland Boligforening believes that renovations alone are not enough to change a city district. Therefore, it has been important for them to integrate the tenants in the strategic city development as well as to make them active city planners. As a housing organisation, their philosophy has been to use a bottom-up approach where everyone involved helps to better each other. In this case, they have brought together tenants, local businesses, associations, and the municipality to work together to create a city district that can accommodate everyone’s needs and wants. The renovation included an extensive refurbishment of a total of 1.100 residences that resulted in up to a 50% reduction in energy use after the renovation. Link to video


💫 Winner: Arriving Home. A sustainable initiative on combatting homelessness in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Vienna | GBV, the Austrian Federation of Limited-Profit Housing Associations and BAWO

Due to the financial consequences of the COVID-19 crisis, many more people became vulnerable and even homeless. The project has helped solve this issue by financing tenants’ contributions upfront and allocating apartments in a participatory way.

The number of partners in the project also added to the complexity of the initiative. In total, 50 associations, 12 social services, and 50 people prepared the scheme within a short 3-month timeframe while the Ministry of social affairs provided extra funding.

The biggest immediate impact of the project was the quality of life of tenants. More than 500 people benefitted from the scheme, more than half of which were women. Link to video

Check out the European Responsible Housing Initiative and the 2022 handbook with the winners and the finalists at

Download the 2022 Responsible Housing Awards Handbook

Passing the Baton to Barcelona for #ISHF2023
It is official - in 2023, the fourth International Social Housing Festival will be held from the 21st to the 24th of March in Barcelona, Spain.

Representatives of Barcelona City Council already gave a hint of what #ISHF2023 would be about. When taking over ‘the Olympic torch’, Javier Buron, the Housing Manager of City of Barcelona hinted that the housing community will necessarily witness many emerging housing models in the short future that face the challenges of today's world.

It is essential to have this global conversation and Housing Europe will accompany the ISHF2023 host, Barcelona City Council in organising another purposeful edition, bringing an international dimension and maintaining the spirit of the Festival.

Keep an eye on which will transform over the summer and let’s keep the energy and discussions going.

Housing Europe members and partners came together to discuss the most pressing challenges ahead of the sector

The message from Housing Europe's General Assembly which took place on June, 17th in Helsinki was clear - the public, cooperative, social housing sector stands with Ukraine and is ready to support its citizens. We need to think of smart policies that overcome the energy and materials crises.

Read Housing Europe's offer within the framework of EU support to Ukraine rebuilding.

The State of Housing in Europe 2022 - mid-term review
The invasion of Ukraine has brought about an extraordinary set of circumstances throughout Europe – a refugee and energy crisis, on top of a health pandemic crisis, on top of an already deepened affordable housing crisis.

This is why we direly needed a mid-term analysis of the State of Housing.

Read what Housing Europe's Observatory has found out.

Rising cost of living 💶 🔴

More than one-third of the current high inflation rate in the EU comes from electricity, gas, and other household fuels. An additional 16% is related to the cost of petrol and diesel, and 15% by food and beverage prices.

These numbers weigh particularly on the most vulnerable households, who have to spend a higher share of their disposable income on basic goods, such as energy and food.

Against this backdrop, many social housing companies have adopted a threefold approach to dealing with increased costs for residents – increased use of renewables (from solar to geothermal), adopting energy saving measures where possible, and carrying out awareness raising campaigns on how to use heating systems more efficiently. 

Increasing price and scarcity of construction-related raw materials and products 🏡

While the increasing cost of living is resulting in massive pressure on households, the capacity of our sector to carry out renovation and improve homes is undermined by erratic and rapid increases in the prices of construction materials.

In Denmark, 73% of building works stopped because of the cap on development costs in the not-for-profit housing sector. Housing organisations can still renovate (also thanks to resources available from the National Building Fund), but not build new homes for the time being.

House prices

Recent data released from Eurostat point at fast price increases by 9.4 % in the euro area and by 10.0 % in the European Union in the fourth quarter of 2021, compared with the same quarter of 2020.

At the same time, the size of the social housing sector in a number of countries is way too small compared to demand often with as many households on waiting lists as those living in social housing. The sector finds itself under pressure with increasing demand from different target groups – from the homeless to key workers, and most recently people fleeing the war in Ukraine.

Supporting Ukraine 🆘

Public, social, and cooperative housing providers are working together with local authorities to identify available homes, often in very tight housing markets where homes are already lacking.

Furthermore, having been through the migration crisis back in 2015, social and affordable housing providers know from experience that EU Member States, local authorities, associations and NGOs must mobilise quickly and collectively to provide not only housing but also different kinds of support.

Finding the right approach for
an improved Energy Performance of Buildings Directive

On the 14th of December 2021 the European Commission launched a proposal for a recast of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD). CEMR (the Council of European Municipalities and Regions) and Housing Europe (the European federation of social, cooperative and public housing providers) support the ambition of the EPBD - it is beyond doubt that we need to speed up the decarbonisation of buildings across the EU.

We also need an EPBD that is effective and adapted to local resources. Both CEMR and Housing Europe represent organisations that have first-hand experience of what approaches work in practice. Moreover, the entities that both entities represent have a public mission and are not profit-driven. Therefore, we decided to come together to put forward proposals to improve the EPBD-recast, keeping the ambitions high and taking the principle of subsidiarity into account. In this position paper we make three recommendations to the European legislators for a better EPBD. 

1) Use adaptability, subsidiarity and proportionality as guiding principles
2) Introduce a steady and predictable legislative framework as building renovation is a long term process 
3) Set a high standard for new construction, but allow for all types of renewable and low-carbon energy

Read our joint position.

Housing Europe at the New European Bauhaus Festival
Housing Europe was right at the very first event of the New European Bauhaus Festival which took place in Brussels on June, 9th. Our Secretary-General, Sorcha Edwards stressed the word 'together' from the initiative's slogan because the housing situation has become more and more difficult not only for low-income groups. "Housing is a collective issue and cannot be left just to the individual, it is a societal question," she said. Speaking about the decarbonisation agenda, Sorcha added that: if we do it right, can be really the trigger to include the most vulnerable" and that policymakers don’t have to be over-prescriptive but to make sure that all the tools are there to tap into all the creativity. The EU Commissioner for Budget and Administration, Johannes Hahn echoed that the COVID-19 has provoked a more positive understanding of the need to offer adequate living and more space to people. That could be supported also legally but our mindset must also change, he pointed out.

Our EU-funded project, syn.ikia was also well-represented at the Festival, running a stand in the city centre of Brussels and spreading the word about what energy-positive neighbourhoods look like, and what are the benefits for people. Read more in the project's newsletter that was out today.

SHAPE-EU travelled to the World Urban Forum
Our Innovation and Project Manager, João Gonçalves is on his way to Brussels, coming from Katowice (Poland) and the World Urban Forum that was organised by UN-Habiat, where he shared the experience of Housing Europe's members in decarbonising the housing stock in an inclusive and affordable way. João put together several best practices that are also #Housing2030-proof.

He explained how the social housing sector is now passing its knowledge through our SHAPE-EU project, the European Affordable Housing Consortium: Sustainable Housing for Social Impact to ensure that our network and small SMEs are really fit for 2055. Expect more details in the July edition.

Housing Europe at the European Platform on Combatting Homelessness
The European Commission organised a Mutual Learning Event: Design of National Strategies to Fight Homelessness and Housing Exclusion and Meeting of the European Platform on Combatting Homelessness (EPOCH) on 23 and 24 June 2022. As an official partner to the EPOCH, Housing Europe participated in the event that had the format of interactive workshops where representatives from relevant ministries explained the details of the strategy and participants had the possibility to address comments and questions. 

The countries covered were Portugal, Ireland, and Denmark. They have different approaches, the main difference being that Ireland has basically integrated its homeless strategy into a broader strategy to increase the availability of affordable housing (as we heard from the Irish housing minister Darragh O’Brien during a dedicated HSP event at ISHF in Helsinki), while Portugal and Denmark have adopted an approach focusing more on social policies - while also including Housing First.

A total of 6 mutual learning events are planned which will run throughout the second half of this year and the beginning of the next. Housing Europe is actively contributing with suggestions and examples from its membership. It’s important that in this rather high-level forum the voice of housing providers is well heard as well as that of services providers and NGOs that are active on the ground to tackle and prevent homelessness.

News from Spain: AVS Housing Awards and a new President
Housing Europe's Spanish member, AVS awards were as usual a break from intense discussions on new housing law and challenges facing the sector, showing what is being achieved around the country despite the odds with a spotlight on regeneration in Barcelona, Sevilla, Bilbao.

The NextGeneration EU funding was a topic of heated debate with some reservations about the stress on energy efficiency when in some cases lifts and social intervention are what is needed but not covered by finance. The complaint that the central level decides while the action is at local level and too much say being given to private sector construction companies was shared. In the case of housing law, tension on division of competencies was also an issue with a lack of clarity for instance on where rent law should be determined.

Our Secretary General, Sorcha Edwards spoke about social innovation with examples from winners of the Responsible Housing Awards and highlighted the Danish scheme of customised social intervention supported by the Danish building fund to address early school leaving and social exclusion, thereby increasing education, income, and savings in benefits.

We also want to congratulate Housing Europe's Board Member, Maria Montes who was elected as the new President of AVS with outgoing Jerónimo Escalera.

Back to summer school in Bochum at the beginning of July
The European Federation for Living, Housing Europe and EBZ Business School in Bochum (Germany), the dedicated University of Applied Sciences for the housing sector, are gearing up for the fifth edition of the Summer School for young/early-career housing professionals. This is a unique experience for ambitious employees that contributes greatly to their professional development, builds teamwork and presentation skills, and supports extending their international network within their field of expertise. The thematic scope for this year is Climate Resilient Homes and Communities for Europe.

The Summer School also supports you as an employer of choice in the housing sector, by helping you to retain your excellent staff and to gather new expertise that can be brought into practice. After previous Summer Schools, many of the participants have remained in touch via social media, continuing to share practices and knowledge. 

Based at the EBZ Campus in Bochum, Germany, the course will be delivered in English.

Have a look at the programme and register. Members and peers are welcome to share the news on their channels! 

Read, watch, listen
Where do people want to live, and how do they want to live?

On June 16, during the International Social Housing Festival, BBC StoryWorks launched the final piece of the 'Building Communities' series which is dedicated to the work of Housing Europe and its network.

Produced by BBC StoryWorks Commercial Productions - the commercial content division of BBC Global News - the film series ‘Building Communities’ are designed to showcase the benefits of forward-thinking social housing initiatives and challenge the persistent misconceptions around social mixing and housing quality.

Through diverse voices and innovative organisations,
Building Communities tells the stories of people from different walks of life living in social and affordable housing. As our Communications Director, Diana Yordanova said at the event, “the series captures the details that one could not simply explain with a PowerPoint or in a meeting with policymakers, Building Communities is one of the best evidence-based tools that we could use to showcase how empowering social and affordable housing can be.” Enjoy watching.
HEART's Final Conference will focus on the experience of renovating with readily-made toolkits

The H2020 HEART EU-funded project and Housing Europe invite you to its Final Conference: Opening doors to efficient buildings which will happen on July, 11th in Brussels but also online. As the project comes to an end, partners will present their research approach, developments and results. There will be two-panel discussions on how to promote energy-efficient, smart and flexible building technologies; and on how should be the pathway to decarbonisation. Please register and book your seat here.
What is happening in ARV?
Housing Europe's EU project that focuses on creating climate-positive circular communities met in Palma de Mallorca, where one of the demo cases is making progress.

The demo is a large municipal initiative involving one of the most vulnerable districts in Palma. There is a solid citizen engagement plan and the schools and social centres in the neighbourhood are involved.

Most residential units are private today, although they were public in the beginning. IBAVI is constructing a public building within the neighbourhood with their signature local materials: local sandstone and Posidonia insulation. A factor taken into consideration is the rise in the cost for the construction materials. There is a strong awareness of the need to impact the socio-economic conditions of the demos, besides the physical and technological work. The latest ARV newsletter tells you more about how the project is advancing.
In July

HEART Conference - 11th July - REGISTER

We are already planning events for the second half of the year.

Watch this space.

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