Housing Europe News 18.01.2016
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Unlike President Obama who struck an optimistic tone in his final State of the Union as President, Jean-Claude Juncker had a number of alarming issues to address in his first press conference of the year. 2016 will be a demanding year for the EU and many of the challenges are linked either directly or indirectly with the housing sector. 

Housing Europe kicked off the year with a policy briefing at the European Parliament on Housing, Migration and Integration. The inputs of the session are going to feed the own initiative report of the Civil Liberties (LIBE) Committee on an holistic approach on migration.

In the end of 2015 as well as in the beginning of the new year some rather positive signals are coming from the EIB side regarding funding opportunities both related to energy efficiency but also to housing refugees. The EU bank seems to be indeed unlocking the potential of the Juncker Plan (EFSI).

Make sure that you visit our website before you start your week. Some changes have been in place over the last days aiming to make your browsing life easier. Now, you can save any event to your calendar with just a click, get notifications for any new posts on our blog via RSS and view all images in high resolution. Let us know what you think!

After having a look at our selection of articles & publications and at our project related news, don't forget to save the date and register for the first working committee meetings of the year.

Best wishes for a happy and healthy 2016!

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The Communities of our Future
A Housing Europe Policy Briefing on Housing, Migration and Integration

The event hosted by the European Parliament Committee for Civil Liberties (LIBE) on Wednesday, 13 January 2016 brought together housing experts and practitioners who shared their experience on the ground as well as the needs in the different countries in order to feed into an own-initiative (INI) report on an holistic approach to migration now being drafted by the Committee.

The position of Housing Europe is that an holistic approach to migration must address accommodation & housing from a number of perspectives:
  1. Emergency mobilization of resources: A challenge being faced by local authorities;
  2. Temporary housing: use of existing buildings/alternatives to regular stock;
  3. Medium & Long term Housing Needs including social issues - the impact of new influx;
  4. Social inclusion of immigrants
  5. Integration: Local experience which shows what can work on the ground
The presentation of the Housing Europe policy briefing was followed by two sessions of presentations and debate. The first part focused on the grassroots experiences across Europe while the second half was dedicated to reactions and discussion on the instruments and possible responses from EU Institutions and other relevant stakeholders.

Check out our Storify report, containing all presentations, from the event that took place at the European Parliament.
EIB hands out first ever loan for refugee housing to promotional bank ILB in Germany
The German Federal State of Brandenburg is the first region to receive a European Investment Bank (EIB) loan dedicated to helping European countries to better face the challenges of the current refugee issue. Signing an agreement with the State’s investment bank, Investitionsbank des Landes Brandenburg (ILB), the EIB committed to providing up to EUR 120 million for the refurbishment and construction of refugee accommodation in different parts of the Federal State. Overall, the project is expected to deliver housing for many of the asylum seekers arriving in Brandenburg until 2018.

The loan will enable the State of Brandenburg and the ILB to reduce the costs of their own investment in the refugee sector –investment which is made independently of the EIB Framework Loan and comes in the form of grants from the regional Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs, Health, Women and the Family, and loans (ILB). The individual schemes are being implemented by local authorities or related services, for instance municipal social housing companies. Around 100 individual schemes throughout Brandenburg are expected to indirectly benefit from the Framework Loan by the end of 2015.

More details and insights
Housing Europe COP21 “Start at Home” Webinar now available on demand

On the day that the COP21 kicked off in Paris, Housing Europe and BUILD UP organised a webinar under the title “Start at Home” to present the contribution of Public, Cooperative and Social Housing providers to mitigate climate change. The webinar, addressing policy makers, housing associations’ managers as well as representatives of various interlinked sectors, was an occasion to follow-up the Housing Europe’s “Copenhagen Offer” by assessing the work done over the last five years in terms of dwellings refurbished, energy saved as well as a series of other measurable outcomes.

What was the average refurbishment rate of Public, Cooperative and Social Housing providers in Europe? How much money was invested since Copenhagen and what was the benefit for tenants and the impact on the economy? The analysis of the figures resulting from the POWER HOUSE nZEC project helped Housing Europe to give an answer to these and other questions.

The last part of the webinar focused on empowering and involving citizen-consumers and communities to unlock the full potential of the fair green energy transition under way.

Have you missed the webinar? You may now watch all presentations on demand on the BUILD UP platform
French President announces additional zero-interest loans for social housing and energy renovation of public buildings
President François Hollande announced on January 12th that a budget of €3 billion will be mobilised by the public financial institution Caisse des Dépôts by 2017. The objective will be to devote significant additional resources for the construction of social housing and the energy renovation of public buildings.

Half of this budget (€1.5 billion) will take the form of zero-interest loans for social housing organisations, for periods equal to or exceeding twenty years. These loans should allow them to raise an additional amount of €8 billion. In the end, it is estimated that 50,000 new homes will be built.

The other half of the budget will take the form of zero-interest loans to the very long term, fully intended for the renovation of public buildings, which should cover 100% of the needs of the borrowers: local authorities, hospitals, universities…

Read more
British smart-meter roll-out to be financed under the Juncker Plan (EFSI)
After the French success story,the Juncker Plan is financing another housing-related project, this time in the UK. This is the largest project so far to be backed by the Juncker Plan and the second one in the UK.

The overall 1 billion GBP initiative will finance the installation of more than 7 million smart meters in homes across Great Britain. The support comes from the EIB (GBP 360 million) and from six other commercial banks that will significantly increase the roll-out of smart meters.

The programme is a key part of the scaling up the use of smart meters in Britain, and one of the largest smart meter schemes in Europe to date. The roll-out will be managed by Calvin Capital, a leading funder, owner and manager of gas and electricity meters.  Individual meters will then be used by customers of energy suppliers.

Read more
The European Pillar of Social Rights  

President Juncker announced the establishment of a "European Pillar of Social Rights"  in his State of the Union address in the European Parliament in September 2015: " We have to step up the work for a fair and truly pan-European labour market. (…) As part of these efforts, I will want to develop a European pillar of social rights, which takes account of the changing realities of the world of work. And which can serve as a compass for the renewed convergence within the euro area.

The pillar of social rights should be a self-standing reference document, of a legal nature, setting out key principles and values shared at EU level. In turn, this could serve as a framework to screen employment and social performance in the light of changing work patterns and societies. As a result, EU legislation may need to be updated or complemented to ensure common rules are up-to-date.

A concrete outline of the European Pillar of Social Rights will be presented in the coming weeks and will be followed by a broad consultation to identify action at the appropriate level. The consultation should serve to refine the text of the Pillar and to identify the right areas of action – be it at the EU level or at the national level. Social partners are expected to play a central role in this process, together with actors from civil society.

Read more
DG ECFIN stakeholders dialogue: your chance to participate
DG ECFIN is organizing a Civil Society Dialogue Session in Brussels, on 24-25 February 2016. This initiative forms part of ECFIN’s new Communication strategy to ‘connect’ to stakeholders and citizens on EU’s economic agenda, and it’s the second event of this type. You can read a short report from the first dialogue session which took place in March last year, from our partner organization EAPN.

Stakeholders from the member states selected by the European Semester Officers in their respective country will be invited to join a meeting in Brussels to discuss with the Commission their respective evaluation of EU economic governance. Housing Europe will send a list of its member organizations as potential stakeholders to the Commission through the Semester Alliance, but to increase your chances to be part of the meeting we strongly invite you to contact the European Semester Officers.

Check out our European Semester Toolkit for more info and tips
The communicating vessels of sustainability & responsibility: Neue Heimat Tirol reports impressive CSR results in 2015
Neue Heimat Tirol, a member of the Housing Europe Austrian member organisation GbV, has recently presented its 2015 CSR report, a solid proof of the potential that economic sustainability of a housing association may unlock in terms of social and ecological responsibility.

A public housing provider, based in Innsbruck, NHT is part of the State of Tirol and of the city/municipality of Innsbruck. Overall, it manages around 17.500 homes, mainly rented apartments (79%) and less privately owned (21%), providing a home as well as other services, including park places, care centres etc. to almost 45.000 people thanks to the work carried out by more than 200 employees.

Just in 2014 NHT invested 114 million Euros for new construction and maintenance, generating thanks to its efficient practices additional social capital of 800.000 €. The overall strategy of NHT aims to create the largest possible profit per year, so that it can have the funds to support a responsible business model. It’s worth mentioning that in 2014 the own capital of the company amounted to 214 million €.

Read the full report on our website

Articles & Publications
Gentrification X: how an academic argument became the people's protest

Gentrification is an intensely emotive issue with almost endless potential for argument. The process of displacement of society’s poorest members is, of course, not a new thing. Nonetheless, there is something of the zeitgeist about gentrification.

Until a few years ago, only academic geographers and housing campaigners used the term. In recent years, however, the subject has entered the mainstream, and the word has become increasingly ubiquitous in what seems like almost every city across the world. But it is not only the debate that has intensified: opposition to gentrification is rapidly becoming less marginal, and more organised. While it is easy to locate historical rent strikes and neighbourhood uprisings to what you might call gentrification avant la lettre, for the first time, gentrification itself is a serious point of political contention – and resistance.

The tipping point in the UK came last autumn, when members of Class War’s so-called Fuck Parade, flaming torches in hand, daubed “SCUM” on the windows of east London’s quintessential hipster cafe, Cereal Killer.

Read the full article on The Guardian
The Right to Adequate Housing for Persons with Disabilities Living in Cities

This study, issued by UN Habitat, reviews the literature on the meaning and impact of the right to adequate housing for persons with disabilities in cities. It uses the foundational framework of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), and demonstrates how the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) provides a new understanding of this complex right.

The report takes a human rights-based approach to development of human settlements that offer equal opportunities to persons with disabilities. It offers three case studies that highlight some good practices and topics worthy of further inquiry.

You may read and download the publication here
Book: Integrated project delivery methods for energy renovation of social housing
By Tadeo Baldiri Salcedo Rahola

European Social Housing Organisations (SHOs) are currently facing challenging times. The ageing of their housing stock and the economic crisis, which has affected both their finances and the finances of their tenants, are testing their capacity to stick to their aim of providing decent and affordable housing.

Housing renovation projects offer the possibility of upgrading the health and comfort levels of their old housing stock to current standards and improve energy efficiency, and this solution also addresses the fuel poverty problems suffered by some tenants.

The aim of this study is to provide an insight into the project delivery methods available for SHOs when they are undertaking energy renovation projects and to evaluate how these methods could facilitate the achievement of a higher process performance.

You may download the book from the TU Delft online library
Report: The Impact of Rapid Credit Growth on Slovakia’s Housing Market

This European Commission Economic Brief looks at the macroeconomic impact of the growth in lending for home purchases in Slovakia and suggests policies that could make the housing market more resilient.

Since joining the EU in 2004, bank lending to the non-financial private sector in Slovakia has grown continuously. While corporate credit volumes stopped growing in the aftermath of the 2008/09 global financial crisis, household borrowing has continued to grow at double digit rates, mainly to finance property purchases.

The authors evaluate the impact of these developments on household debt levels in Slovakia, investment activity and house prices.

Read and download the report

PROF/TRAC Train the Trainers Program

One of the objectives of PROF-TRAC project is in work package 4 (WP4) development of a European central Train-the-Trainers program. Its goal is an efficient use, adaption and implementation of existing training structures, training materials and accreditation schemes into national lifelong learning. 

Train-the-Trainers (TtT) program will create ‘ambassadors’ for the PROF-TRAC project, who can initiate and organize the national training programs and can train the trainers on national scale.

The TtT course for 21 participants from 7 countries will last three days. The first part of the course is dedicated to lectures focused on key activities related to national course development. The second part of the course is a workshop.
The first TtT course is organized by Czech Technical University in Prague (CVUT) on February 15 -17, 2016. 

Find out more 
New and Upcoming Solutions in Energy Efficiency in Buildings

In December 2015, the Community Research and Development Information Service (CORDIS) of the European Commission presented the latest results from EU funded projects on the energy efficiency in buildings.

These findings are gathered in four Results Packs, which cover a number of topics and are aimed at all actors along the building and construction value chain, including local authorities, investors, architects, construction companies, suppliers of building materials, engineers and other interested parties. They inform about new and upcoming solutions, as well as the latest scientific findings and technologies in order to increase the knowledge and take-up across Europe.

The four Packs focus on:
  • Smart windows
  • Better indoor air quality
  • Renovation and retrofitting
  • Embodied energy reduction

Working Committee Meetings are back! (*)
22-24 February 2016 in Brussels

The first working committee meetings of 2016 are approaching. Please check out the dates and times and register as soon as possible for the ones you are going to attend.

The agenda will be sent to Housing Europe members by the end of January.

Read more on our website
European Nearly Zero Energy Buildings Conference 2016
25-26 February 2016, Wels Stadthalle, Austria
The European Nearly Zero Energy Buildings Conference 2016 will take place in the context of the World Sustainable Energy Days (WSED16). The event aims to offer up-to-date information on nZEB activities in Europe, and to provide a platform for networking and business contacts.

The themes of the Conference are the following:
  • nZEB Technologies
  • nZEB Policies
  • nZEB Financing
  • Best practice examples for new construction and renovation
  • High efficiency buildings supplied by renewable energy
Housing Europe Debuty Secretary General and Policy Coordinator, Julien Dijol will be taking part in the Expert dialogue “What works best to accelerate building renovation?”.

Find out more information and register
Over-Indebtedness of European Households: Myths and realities
26 January 2016, CEPS Conference Room, 1 Place du Congres, 1000 Brussels
CEPS, a leading ​think tank and ​forum for debate on EU affairs, is organising the conference on “Over-Indebtedness of European households: Myths and realities”, with three main objectives:    
  • to understand the main drivers behind over-indebtedness                                           
  • to highlight the main effects on borrowers and lenders                                                
  • to analyse innovative tools to tackle and/or prevent over-indebtedness
MEPs, European Commission representatives, academics, researchers and civil society stakeholders will exchange views providing with a variety of facts and figures.
Check out the programme of the day and the line-up of speakers
Public hearing: Making the circular economy happen
28 January 2016, Brussels
The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) will elaborate an opinion addressing the whole circular economy package under the responsibility of its rapporteur, Cillian Lohan, CEO of the Irish Green Economy Foundation.

In order to ensure its opinion closely reflects the views of the European civil society, the EESC organises a public hearing on January 28th to gather inputs from interested stakeholders and experts at an early stage. Speakers will include representatives of diverse European civil society organisations, businesses and institutions. For civil society organisations involved in the circular economy, it will be an opportunity to make their voices heard and convey their messages to the European decision-makers.

The programme and registration platform are available online
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