Housing Europe Newsletter 13.03.2015
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A decisive step towards the completion of the regulatory work for the The European Fund for Strategic Investments was made this week and the plan that is supposed to be in the heart on Europe's investment attempts is about to be tested on the field. Housing Europe is getting ready, following its contribution to the TaskForce, meeting key players and offering its members the opportunity to receive guidance from experts.

At the same time our members react to the Country Specific Recommendations while President, Marc Calon is reaching out to member organisations to hear about their top priorities in person. Our working Committees met this week in Brussels and we have prepared a brief summary of highlights of all sessions along with a report from a seminar on the philosophy of co-production that may inspire ideas on how our own organisation is structured and works.

Get more information on the most important news of the last couple of weeks, access our list of articles and publications

Stay tuned with the latest developments regarding the European Projects and initiatives Housing Europe is taking part in promoting exchange on tackling energy poverty with new refurbishment solutions and local solar energy production in social housing, innovative approaches to combining housing and social support and housing centred ways to address youth poverty.

You can also check out our listing of events you may be interested to attend.

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Housing Europe Working Committees meet for the first time in 2015
Marc Calon meets Vit Vanicek in the Czech Republic
Marc Calon and Sorcha Edwards visit Housing Europe Polish Member
A few days after the first Working Committee meetings of the year in Brussels we have gathered the highlights from all five sessions ahead of the detailed reports and presentations that will follow shortly.

Read the brief summary on our website
Housing Europe members react to the European Commission Decisions on Macroeconomic Imbalances (*)

European Commission Vice-President, Valdis Dombrovskis and Commissioner Pierre Moscovici, responsible for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs presented on Wednesday, February 25th the decisions on the Macroeconomic Imbalances. To date the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Sweden have been identified as having imbalances linked to the housing sector.

Check out our members' reactions on our website 
Stay up-to-date with the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI)

Housing Europe has received confirmation that on the morning of March 24th, Werner Schmidt, the coordinator of the Taskforce for the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) and head of the ‘Environmental and Regional Development Department’ within the European Investment Bank with direct responsibility for the urban and housing sector has agreed to participate in a workshop for Housing Europe Members in Brussels.

Latest developments
This week during the ECOFIN meeting on March 10th in Brussels EU Finance Ministers agreed on the Regulation to set up the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), which will be at the heart of the Commission's €315 billion Investment Plan for Europe. The decision clears a major hurdle on the path to matching ample liquidity reserves with potential investment projects.

Regarding the national contributions to the Plan Italy announced in the beginning of the week that it would contribute €8 billion to projects benefiting from finance by the EFSI. Italy is now the fourth country to announce a contribution through its National Promotional Bank: Germany announced in February that it would contribute €8 billion to the Investment Plan through KfW. Also in February, Spain announced a €1.5 billion contribution through Instituto de Crédito Oficial (ICO), and France last Friday announced a €8 billion pledge through Caisse des Dépôts (CDC) and Bpifrance (BPI).

National Promotional Banks have a crucial role to play in getting Europe investing again. They have the expertise to carry out the Investment Plan, and they ensure the most efficient use of public resources.

Our position
While signals are positive, the current regulation draft being debated in the European Parliament avoids mentioning housing or housing retrofit as a priority for the fund, leaving excessive flexibility as to what the fund can actually support with the risk that large scale infrastructural projects will be the primary target. We have a clear message to communicate: We see that potentially the fund criteria can be fulfilled by housing projects however its use must be facilitated by an adequate regulatory basis which takes into account the specific needs of our sector.
In touch with members: Housing Europe President visits Poland and the Czech Republic
Marc Calon meets Vit Vanicek in the Czech Republic
Marc Calon and Sorcha Edwards visit Housing Europe Polish Member
The President of Housing Europe, Marc Calon has continued in March his series of visits to the member organisations. Following his trip to Rome to visit Federcasa and ahead of his Talinn visit, Marc visit our Czech and Polish members.

On 18th Feb Marc Calon met Vít Vaníček President of the Union of Czech and Moravian Co-operative Housing (SCMBD) for an update on the Housing situation in Czech Republic and the Role of cooperative housing. In Poland Housing Cooperative stock covers 2,3 million homes.
Marc Calon & Sorcha Edwards Housing Europe President and Secretary General visited the headquarters of the representative body of the movement the Auditing Union of Housing Co-operatives activity (ZRSM RP) in Warsaw and were received by Jerzy Jankowski the President and Tomasz Jórdeczka the Chairman of the Supervisory Board. ZRSM RP informed of legislation under preparation in Poland which threatens to undermine Polish Housing Cooperatives.

More information on both visits on our website

Articles & Publications
10 minutes with Mary Taylor, CEO of SFHA in Scotland

Every month we introduce you to one of the people leading the work of our member organisations. In this edition, we head to Scotland to introduce you to the CEO of our member organisation SFHA, Mary Taylor.

Find out more about the SFHA and its structure. Get informed about the housing policy priorities in Scotland at the moment and get to know Mary, at least a bit, in person.

Read on our blog
EURHONET establishes new topic group on IT in Housing

Our partner EURHONET which gathers 31 of your members has established in February its new Topic Group “IT in Housing”, gathering colleagues from the Communication and IT Departments of EURHONET members.
IT in Housing aims at developing innovative concepts and projects in the field of communication with tenants and the use of new technologies in housing. The meeting started with a brief presentation of the communication strategies of the EURHONET members. Following this fruitful exchange, during which Housing Europe Secretary General was also present, the group decided on the next steps and the topics and actions for the future:
  • Cost-effective implementation of IT measures in social housing
  • Ways of boosting communication with targeted groups, specifically seniors and people with immigrant background
  • Campaign for building trust in the web and the use of online services among tenants
  • Linking the communication strategy with the brand strategy of the housing companies
  • Involving tenants in the communication process as partner of the company and not only as recipients
The next meeting will take place in Munich at GWG München on September 2-3, 2015.

More information on the EURHONET website

Co-producing support services- Report from a workshop on co-production

“Co-production is about reflecting upon the way you’re working- the obstacle is a path, if you consider this a journey”

Co-production is a philosophy and a concept at the very core of the ELOSH project, in which Housing Europe is leading the dissemination activities, and all partners involved are currently working at national level to tackle a series of challenges to implement these values in their way of working in the best way possible. As shared key challenges had been recognized the deep understanding of the concept as well as overcoming practical barriers such as deadlines and lack of resources.

Miro Griffiths of Miro Consultancy, recognised for specialising and having a keen interest in disabled people’s empowerment and participation, facilitated a co-production workshop in Amsterdam- as side event of the transpartnership meeting- that guided participants all the way from the theory and the background to the actual co-production practices.

Read the full report on our blog 
The role of housing and housing providers in tackling poverty experienced by young people in the UK

Participants of the Housing Europe Urban Affairs Working had the chance to see an introduction to the latest research project our organisation is taking part in along with the Centre for Housing and Planning Research (CCHPR) of the University of Cambridge. Anna Clarke illustrated in her presentation that the study examines what works in tackling poverty amongst young people who do not live in the parental home, with a focus on the role that housing providers can play. Ms. Clarke also presented some stunning figures related to the exclusion of the young people from housing in the UK.

A few weeks ago we had interviewed the leading professor, Michael Oxley and we had asked him to set the scene regarding the aim of the study. Does exclusion of young people from housing indeed create a lost generation? What can be the role of housing providers in tackling youth poverty? Is this a European or a national challenge?

You may the interview and view the presentation made by Anna Clarke on our blog

The Housing Europe Communication Network (*)
Setting up a European Responsible Housing Campaign

A first meeting on March 23rd in Brussels to establish a network that brings together Housing Europe Communication Officers and representatives of our members who deal with public affairs.

The event is an opportunity to introduce everyone to the Brussels scene, exchange views and practices but also begin preparation of a pan-European campaign to actively promote ‘Responsible Housing’ which lies at the heard of Housing Europe’s 2015 strategy.

Find out more and register to take part
“POWER HOUSE nZEC! Final Event: European Fund for Strategic Investments & Energy Union: opportunities and challenges for the social housing sector - lessons from the nZEC project!" - 24 March 2015, Brussels, Belgium

While signals are positive, the current regulation draft being debated in the European Parliament avoids mentioning housing or housing retrofit as a priority for the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), leaving excessive flexibility as to what the fund can actually support with the risk that large scale infrastructural projects will be the primary target.

Housing Europe, representing Public Cooperative & Social Housing provides, is lobbying to change this; the key findings of the POWER HOUSE nearly-Zero Energy Challenge! project, particularly those of the Financing nZEB TaskForce, will be feeding the debate with Mr Werner Schmidt, Coordinator of the EIB Taskforce for the EFSI and head of the ‘Environmental and Regional Development Department’ with direct responsibility for the urban and housing sector.

The event will take place at the Brussels Offices of the Province of Limburg (House of the Dutch Provinces) - 59-61, Rue de Trèves - 1040, Brussels. 

Deadline for Registrations: 17 March 2015

More information, the event agenda and link to the registration here 
ENHR 2015: The Housing Research Event you should attend this year!

5 plenary sessions, 26 workshops, 10 fieldtrips plus a New Housing Research Colloquium… The European Network for Housing Research (ENHR) is organising its annual conference this year in the capital of Portugal, Lisbon. Under the main theme “Housing and Cities in a time of change: are we focusing on People?” this 4-day event aims at bringing together academics, researchers and housing practitioners to exchange views and build strong project collaborations.

For Housing Europe members it is a nice networking opportunity just before our General Assebly that will be also taking place in Lisbon on July 1st and 2nd. 

Check out the full programme and take advantage of the Early Bird Registration fee
France: ESH presents the first CSR Awards for the housing sector

ESH, a member association of Union Sociale pour l' Habitat organises the first edition of its Corporate Social Responsibility Awards. It is the first time that such a competition is taking place in France related to the housing sector. 

6 thematic categories have been identified:
  1. Environment
  2. Customer relations
  3. Fair practices
  4. Communities and Local Development
  5. Working Conditions and Human Rights
  6. Governance
Drawing inspiration from the European Responsible Housing Awards that were co-hosted by Housing Europe last November ESH is planning to create a Handbook of good practices that will be also translated in English and circulated across Europe.

So far, more than 35 organisations have filed their applications and the procedure is still open until March 30thThe Award ceremony is going to take place in Paris on June 4th. We will keep you posted.
More information (in French) or via e-mail
World Habitat Awards 2015-16 
An invitation to enter!

Housing projects and approaches are sought that demonstrate practical, innovative and sustainable solutions to current housing issues faced by countries all around the world can be transferred or adapted for use as appropriate are already being implemented or are completed ie not at design stage or very early stages of development view the term habitat from a broad perspective and bring other benefits as well, such as energy or water saving, income generation, social inclusion, community and individual empowerment, health benefits, capacity building or education.

All entries are assessed and 10 projects are shortlisted by an assessment committee. The World Habitat Awards were established in 1985 by the Building and Social Housing Foundation as part of its contribution to the United Nations International Year of Shelter for the Homeless.

Two awards are given annually to projects that provide practical and innovative solutions to current housing needs and problems. Every year an award of £10,000 is presented to each of the two winners at the World Urban Forum (even years) and UN-Habitat Governing Council (odd years).

More information and terms & conditions to enter
The EIB Institute organises a Social Innovation Tournament

The Social Innovation Tournament promotes the generation of innovative ideas and rewards initiatives that fight against social exclusion. It covers projects in a wide range of fields – from education, health care and the natural or urban environments, to new technologies, new systems and new processes.

All projects compete for a General Category 1st and 2nd Prize of EUR 25 000 and EUR 10 000 respectively. Projects addressing the topic of equal opportunities with a special emphasis on people with disabilities will also compete for the Special Category Prize of EUR 25 000. Further awards include vouchers entitling a number of projects and their teams to benefit from subsequent coaching/mentoring services.

The tournament is open to not-for-profit and for-profit organisations, young entrepreneurs and social enterprises, corporate responsibility departments of private sector companies of any size, NGOs, government or local government entities and university communities. Proposals can be submitted in English or French only.

For more details you may visit the Tournament’s website
'Housing in Berlin' becomes a University Colloquium

Supply of urban accommodation is becoming a major issue on city council agendas. Also in Berlin, rising rents, new building projects, ecological challenges of urban development and the widespread tendency for living spaces to become divided and separated into areas defined by different social groups are all bringing new challenges.

With the Interdisciplinary colloquium “Housing in Berlin“ the Georg-Simmel Center for Metropolitan Studies aims to foster on-going exchange between often disconnected approaches and reference points, quotations and opinions  towards urban planning, architecture, the real estate and housing business, geography, social science and other disciplines. The goal of the colloquium is to develop an on-going interdisciplinary exchange on housing related questions in regard to urban development.

The colloquium is open to students, researchers but also professionals will be considered eligible. It requires a physical presence in Berlin twice a month.

Deadline for applications: March 31, 2015

More information in English  and in German
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