The Coronavirus pandemic has put the spotlight on Europe’s housing crisis, exposing the shortcomings of our housing policies that have increased inequalities and destabilized our societies. Now that the “Stay at home” guidelines pushed us more than ever before to take stock of the state of housing including the unacceptably high levels of homelessness and over-crowding and unsustainable rental costs in the EU, it’s time for a global rethink of housing policy. The EU must lead on this. Public, cooperative and social housing providers have set the example how to proceed. Here’s why housing is essential to solve the ‘Next Generation EU’ jigsaw puzzle.
1. We need more homes. We need better homes. We know how. The rebuilding of our European societies after the Covid outbreak needs a solid foundation which is future-proofed both socially and environmentally. Today, public, cooperative and social housing providers guarantee a roof for more than 25 million people, accounting inter alia for more than 30% of the total stock in the Netherlands, 24% in Austria, 21% in Denmark, 16,5% in France and 12% in Finland. These figures are considerably lower in other parts of Europe leaving authorities with more costly private-sector based measures to address housing exclusion.
2. We have to build cohesive communities. We have to build supportive communities. We know how. According to Eurofound’s briefing ‘Living, working and COVID-19’, 8.1% of households in the EU have been unable to pay their rent or mortgage in the past three months. At the same time, 20% of unemployed people are fearful of losing their home. The role of social and affordable housing providers continues to evolve, going beyond just housing provision reacting to changing needs. Supported housing & housing first schemes helping households with economic and social difficulties to access and keep permanent housing, thereby actively preventing and addressing poverty and homelessness are now a reality in France, Italy and Spain.
3. Our homes must be greener. Our energy transition must be fair. We know how. In order to renovate the entire social, cooperative and public housing stock in Europe by 2050 to an average B-grade (60 to 120 kwh/m²/year) or A-grade (below 50kwh/m²/year), thus contributing to the decarbonisation of the building stock and a CO2 neutral Europe, we would need to increase this number by at least 200,000 per year. This would require an extra €10bn yearly until 2050.
Read the full press release here.