Housing Europe Newsletter 27.03.2015
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Spring in Brussels is usually the time when the legislative procedure speeds up. The European Fund for Strategic Investments is clearly a point of reference both for the EU Institutions and for the activities of organisations like Housing Europe. Following our reaction through a press release last week, we are happy to share some positive developments related to the regulation of the ambitious European investment plan from the side of the European Parliament.

At the same time, Housing Europe brought together last Tuesday all institutional and housing related stakeholders in a meeting that identified the main challenges as well as the opportunities for our sector related to the Juncker Plan.

However, EFSI is not the only field of activity for us. Our President, Marc Calon has visited Estonia for the 8th Baltic Housing Conference, Housing Europe was represented in the European Construction Forum, while communication officers from our member organisations met in Brussels for the first time to set up a communication network that aims at strengthening our voice.

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.

Before starting to read, please allow us to give you a tip:
Go to the homepage of (ideally using any other browser than Internet Explorer) and log in by clicking on the lock on the top right side using your credentials. You will then be able to access all links that are for members only (indicated with *).

“European Fund for Strategic Investments and Energy Union: Opportunities and Challenges for the Public, Cooperative and Social Housing sector” Workshop

Housing Europe decided to take part in the discussion on the Energy Union and the EU investment Plan by presenting some of the key findings of the POWER HOUSE nearly-Zero Energy Challenge. Putting in place successful renovation strategies is challenging and the project has contributed to identify the necessary conditions in terms of finance, cost optimality, divided-ownership regulation and skills to achieve them.

How to create synergies between the EU Investment Plan (i.e. the European Fund for Strategic Investments), the European Structural and Investment Funds and other type of financing initiatives in order to deliver a large number of successful renovations that will on the one hand reduce the carbon footprint of the sector while ensuring better living conditions for residents coupled with affordable running costs? -This is the challenging question that the workshop dealt with!

You may find the event report, all presentations held on the day as well as a Storify summary of our live tweeting session on our website
European Parliament mobilises in favour of Social Housing (*)

Housing Europe expresses concerns of potential exclusion of the housing sector from EFSI, MEPs- members of the Housing Reference Group amend the joint regulatory report of the European Parliament while the European Commission is confronted with Housing-related parliamentary questions.

Stay tuned with all latest developments on our website
President Marc Calon visits Estonia on the occasion of the 8th Baltic Housing Conference
Our Estonian member organisation, EKYL organised last week the 8th Batlic Housing Conference in Talinn, a forum to share ideas and network with housing experts. This 2015 edition focused on sharing international experiences on the realization and operation of building renovation projects. Related urban planning aspects and innovative technical solutions are important topics. Also the latest development in the field in Baltic Region and results of the project Power House Nearly Zero Energy Challenge! were presented. 
The President of Housing Europe, Marc Calon was among the key speakers of the conference, presenting the European perspective about Energy and Housing 2020.

You may access the full conference report here

Apart from meeting with the chairman of the EKYL board, Andres Jaadla and other national housing stakeholders, 
Marc Calon also had the chance to meet Rait Kuuse, Deputy S
ecretary General of Social Policy at the Ministry of Social 
AffairsThe president of the European Federation pointed out that: “Estonia with the strong support of EKYL has been doing excellent work in bringing up the energy efficiency and liveability of existing buildings. Affordable Housing for new generations however needs more attention if Estonia is to remain 
competitive and socially inclusive.” and he added that “The role of the state is to ensure the right regulatory and financial environment which facilitates and supports the development of a diverse housing market adapted to the diverse needs in any society.”
Housing Europe at the High Level Construction Forum (*)

The European Commission High Level Strategic Forum on Construction had its 3rd meeting this week and Johanna Ode, Chair of Housing Europe’s Committee on Energy, Construction and Standardisation contributed to the discussions.

The meeting dealt with 4 main topics on which Housing Europe’s members had contributed over the past months
  1. Strengthening the Internal Market for Construction,
  2. Stimulating favourable investment conditions,
  3. Improving the human capital basis,
  4. Improving resource efficiency, environmental performance and business opportunities
Working Committee Meetings March 2015 Full Report (*)

Following the brief summary we had sent you as part of our latest newsletter edition, the full report of the first working committee meetings of the year is now available, including all powerpoint presentations held during the two days. 

You access both the report and the presentations on our website
Netherlands review their Housing Act- New legislation for the largest social housing sector in Europe

Following a review process that had started a decade ago, the Dutch senate approved in the beginning of March the new Housing Act. The new legislation for the social housing sector in the country will be gradually put into force in 2016 and aims at clarifying the status and role of social housing bodies after they had become financially independent from the state in the’90s.

Read more on our blog
Housing Europe establishes its Communication Network (*)

For the first time since Housing Europe was founded in 1988, Communication Officers and representatives who deal with public affairs from its member organisations gathered in Brussels to establish a communication network to better coordinate the communication activities of the European federation and of our sector as a whole.
Representatives from BL (Denmark), Aedes (Netherlands), GdW (Germany), NABCO (Ireland), BSHF (UK), Federcasa (Italy) and from EKYL (Estonia) as well as a representative from the International Union of Tenants (IUT) had the chance to exchange around ways of work, best practices and current national policy priorities.

Read more on our website

Articles & Publications
Britain’s housing crisis is a human disaster- How can this come to an end within a generation?
The importance of the "Homes for Britain" campaign

Rising house prices have been willed by public policy over decades. The fallout for families, communities and business has been severe. If there is one thing that revolutionary communists and bankers can agree on, it is that there is a housing crisis in Britain. There are too few homes, usually costing too much, often in the wrong places, and often of poor quality. The crisis damages lives, breaks up families, blights employment prospects, reduces mobility and slows the economy.

This, you would have thought, would be a gift for any political party. Housing is a matter of vital importance to voters. At a time when all parties struggle to offer alternatives to each other, this would be an opportunity to be distinctive and take the lead. Yet all the main parties’ offerings on the subject are piecemeal, gestural and unambitious.

Given the context provided above by the Guardian, the “Homes for Britain” campaign launched by the National Housing Federation (NHF), a Housing Europe member is of vital importance for both the sector in the UK as well as for some people’s lives.

NHF has identified 10 key points in its campaign
  1. Zero inflation a target
  2. End the obsession with owner-occupation
  3. Use every tool in the box
  4. Build – carefully and well – in green belts
  5. Make neighbourhoods
  6. End discounts on right to buy
  7. End vindictive benefit cuts
  8. Act regionally
  9. Put a secretary of state for housing in the cabinet
  10. Let councils borrow to build
Rationalisation of the social housing sector in Brussels Capital Region- Report from another Midi du Logement Social
On the 26th of March, the social housing federation SLRB hosted the second 'midi du logement' of 2015. The lunchtime conference dealt with the need of rationalising the social housing sector in the Belgian capital. Housing Europe trainee, Edit Lakatos attended the event and reports.

Read more on our blog
Ireland: State faces Strasbourg action over ‘poor-quality’ housing- NABCO comments

A class action against the State, taken by residents of 20 local authority estates, alleging poor-quality housing is breaching their human rights, has been declared admissible by the European Committee of Social Rights in Strasbourg.

The residents, who live in flats and houses in Dublin, Cork and Limerick, say “substandard housing conditions” and the fact there is no independent body to which they can complain about these conditions breach their rights under five sections of the Revised European Social Charter. They received confirmation yesterday that their action, known as a “collective complaint”, will be considered. The Government will now have to respond and the tenants’ groups may be asked to respond further.

Read the rest of the Irish Times story

NABCO calls for “sustained investment in redevelopment and in the construction of new housing”

Our Irish member, NABCO was asked to comment on the story:
“The collective complaint being brought by Irish tenants against the municipal housing authorities underlines the urgent need for increased investment by the Irish state in the provision of new social housing.  Many of these complaints relate to housing schemes that had been due for redevelopment prior to the housing crash but where refurbishment programmes have stalled.  Sustained investment in redevelopment and in the construction of new housing must now be provided to support municipalities in providing alternative accommodation.”
Helping the homeless is not a political choice

Athens this week defied the Commission by enacting new social inclusion measures for the homeless. But denying Greek citizens their fundamental right to housing assistance would be a breach of EU law, argue Freek Spinnewijn, Director of FEANTSA and Marc Uhry, Head of Europe at Fondation Abbé Pierre in a joint opinion piece on EurActiv.

You may read the full article here
European Commission Report “Energy Renovation: The Trump Card for the New Start for Europe”

The latest report of the European Commission Joint Research Center highlights that "Energy renovation is instrumental for reaching the EU 2020 goals. It has implications for growth and jobs, energy and climate and cohesion policies. Renovating existing buildings is a 'win-win' option for the EU economy.

In 2011, specialised construction activities that include renovation work and energy retrofits employed three times as many people as energy supply to meet the needs of buildings for the same value added. The phasing-out of inefficient buildings from the European building stock requires an EU renovation plan. To be successful, this plan should incorporate the existing EU policy frameworks for growth and jobs, energy and climate and those related to cohesion policies into one single framework targeting the modernisation of the overall value chain of the building sector.

A regional approach prioritising less developed regions, especially those in Member States with per capita GDPs below the EU average, is fundamental to ensuring that all EU citizens can live in comfortable homes and limiting the impact of inefficient houses on public finances and health."

You may read and download the full report here 

Reports from POWER HOUSE nearly Zero Energy Challenge latest study visit and seminar

Warm/Mediterranean TaskForce Workshop & Study visit" - 19-20 March 2015, Marseille, France

The members of the POWER HOUSE Warm/Mediterranean Climates TaskForce met in Marseille to present to the management and technical staff of the Association Régionale Hlm PACA & Corse the TaskForce’s findings and exchange information about Mediterranean bioclimatic architectural principles. During the Workshop, the regional scheme in place to finance the energy refurbishment of the Social Housing stock (plan RHEA hlm) was explained in depth; the programme, with a budget of 60 million € over 4 years will allow the energy refurbishment of 25.000 dwellings in the PACA (Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur) region.

Download here the presentations made during the Workshop

The following day, participants had the opportunity to visit one new-construction housing project “Résidence Valtellina” in  Chateauneuf-les-Martigues, consisting in 4 buildings for a total of 117 dwellings. The complex, managed by Logirem, was built in observance of bioclimatic principles to nearly-Zero Energy Standards. The study visit continued to two refurbishments projects in Vitrolles, where 122 dwellings were refurbished by Logirem and other 125 by Famille et Provence to high energy standards. 
National Workshop "Urban regeneration and the role of Social Housing operators

The final results of the POWER HOUSE Divided/Cooperative ownership TaskForce were presented during the national Workshop "Urban regeneration and the role of Social Housing operators" held on 25 March 2015 in Milan.

The event, organised by Legacoop Abitanti, addressed to social housing practitioners both from the Cooperative and Public sector, intended to assess how the first generation of energy-efficient homes is "working". Costs/benefits ratio, complexity of maintenance and management as well as usability and comfort for tenants were also issued tackled in the seminar and supported by the results of the monitoring work carried out in various buildings in Italy and in other European countries.

In the second part, speakers investigated new construction models as well as the digitization and technological innovation process cities will be facing in the near future (smart communities / smart cities). To conclude, a section was also dedicated to financial aspects with a focus on funding opportunities for urban regeneration projects  from the EU.

Download here the presentations (in Italian) made during the Workshop

SAVE THE DATE: Housing Europe Working Committees meet again on June 8th and 9th in Brussels!

The next Housing Europe Working Committee meetings are scheduled in the second week of June in Brussels. All 5 thematic committees will meet in the Belgian capital less than a month ahead of the annual General Assembly with a full agenda. 

The Info Pack will be sent to Housing Europe members soon
REMINDER: Registrations for the Housing Europe General Assembly are now open!

As you have been informed last week the registrations for the annual GA of Housing Europe are now open. The GA will take place in Lisbon on 1-2 July 2015.

Download the Info Pack, register and find detailed guidelines about your accomodation in Lisbon
The State of Housing in the EU 2015: Publication Presentation

The latest update on the State of Housing in the EU by the Housing Europe Observatory. The only Pan-European publication bringing together housing trends, statistics, policies, research & case studies

The Housing Europe Observatory is the only independent research body that is in position to monitor the housing sector at EU level thanks to the membership network of the European Federation of Public, Cooperative and Social Housing.
Following the widely circulated and used Housing Europe Review of 2012 our team of researchers will provide with an updated version of the ‘State of Housing in the EU’.
Many things have changed both in the housing market and most importantly in the everyday life of the Europeans over the last couple of- crisis- years. Detailed statistics per country, analysis of the housing trends and a compilation of most significant policy updates will offer an overview of the evolution of the housing sector.
Case studies will feature finance & financial reform post-2008, energy security, social integration, innovation in public policy and governance.
Stay tuned for more information regarding the event of the presentation...
5 May 2015, EESC, Rue Belliard 99, 1040, Brussels
World Habitat Awards 2014-2015 Winners Announced

The winners of the 2014-15 World Habitat Awards have been announced, chosen from hundreds of entries from around the world.  These innovative projects demonstrate significant impact within their own communities as well as the transfer of their practice to other contexts.

The winners of the 2014-15 World Habitat Awards are:

Y-Foundation - Finland
An early adopter of the Housing First model, Y-Foundation has played a leading role in a policy that is on target to end long term homelessness in Finland.

Liter of Light @ Night – Philippines
Recycled plastic bottles fitted with an LED bulb and a mini solar panel are fitted into roofs to provide a low cost electric lighting system. The project has lit up over 160,000 homes in the Philippines and has now spread around the world.

Find out more on the website of the Awards
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