Introducing social rental agencies

In Hungary, as in many post-socialist countries of Central and Eastern Europe, the availability of public rental apartment is limited, less than 3% of the total housing stock. Experts claim the social rental stock should double to meet the current need.

The demand for public housing is increasing due to the lingering effect of the economic crisis. The number of debtors defaulting on their mortgages continues to grow. Yet, the social rental stock in Hungary is not only diminishing but also facing problems like poor quality, segregated settings and management shortages. At the same time, local governments, mandated to operate most of the public housing, show little interest in making such tenements sustainable.

Economic crisis increased the demand for public housing

Economic crisis increased the demand for public housing

What is a social rental agency?

Social Rental Agencies (SRAs) can become an instrument for developing a vibrant and effective social rental sector in Hungary. These agencies perform three key tasks: renting housing units from a private rental market to needy people on special terms and guarantees, taking care of the management of the dwellings and, finally, providing social work to prevent indebtedness. SRAs can operate in the framework of a newly established legal environment by local governments or by registered NGOs that are controlled by the central authorities.

Such SRAs currently operate in Belgium, the Netherlands and Ireland. Over the past few years, some elements of SRAs have been at work in Hungary, including a national rent allowance program (currently closed), local rent allowance arrangements, efforts of local family care centers to negotiate affordable rents for the clients and programs to house former homeless in private flats, supplemented by social work and a complementary housing allowance.

SRAs in Hungary

Habitat for Humanity Hungary, together with the Budapest-based Metropolitan Research Institute, is trying to implement this Social Rental Agency scheme in Hungary. Local experience with social rentals and the potential introduction of SRAs was the central topic of Habitat Hungary’s 15th Anniversary conference in November 2011.

Between September 2012 and November 2013, Habitat Hungary and the Metropolitan Research Institute are conducting research and advocacy work, supported by the Open Society Institute, to help include the SRA concept into the set of official housing policy instruments. The organizations will analyze existing SRA practices and develop feasibility studies in cooperation with four municipalities.

Lea Kőszeghy
advocacy officer
Habitat for Humanity Hungary

Key Housing Forum speakers announced

Featured speakers at the second Housing Forum Europe and Central Asia will be Sven Alkalaj, Executive Secretary of United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), and David Sanderson, Director, Centre for Development and Emergency Practice (CENDEP), Faculty of Technology, Design and Environment, Oxford Brookes University.

Sven Alkalaj, Executive Secretary of United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE)

Sven AlkalajExecutive Secretary of United Nations Economic Commission for Europe

Sven Alkalaj, Executive Secretary of United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), has dealt with political and economic issues at the national, regional, European, and international levels, gaining particular experience in enhancing regional cooperation amongst countries in the Western Balkans as well as the Eastern European and the Commonwealth of Independent States countries.

He served as Foreign Affairs Minister of Bosnia and Herzegovina from 2007 to 2012. Earlier in his career, he held the position of Ambassador to the United States of America, the Organization of American States, the Kingdom of Belgium and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Prior to this, Sven Alkalaj worked in the private sector as the Managing Director of a multinational engineering company.

David Sanderson, Director of Centre for Development and Emergency Practice (CENDEP)

David SandersonDirector of Centre for Development and Emergency Practice

David Sanderson, Director, Centre for Development and Emergency Practice (CENDEP), Faculty of Technology, Design and Environment, Oxford Brookes University, has worked in over thirty countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America, Europe and the Caribbean doing project management, training, research and consultancies in development and emergencies.

After serving as a Research Associate at Oxford Brookes University’s Centre for Development and Emergency Practice, he worked as Project Manager at the Oxford Centre for Disaster Studies, focusing on disaster risk reduction, then for the NGO CARE International UK, first as Senior Technical and Policy Advisor and Head of the Policy Unit, and subsequently for four years as Regional Manager for Southern and West Africa, in CARE’s Regional Management Unit in South Africa.

His professional experience lies in urban poverty, disaster risk reduction and livelihoods. He has undertaken work for the UK Government’s Department for International Development (DFID), Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC), European Commission (DiPECHO, EC), United States Agency for International Development (USAID), World Bank (EDI Section), United Nations (UNDP/UNDESA), Action by Churches Together (ACT), British Council, Christian Aid, Tear Fund and the Mott Foundation.

Rediscovering housing possibilities: could less be more?

Rediscovering Housing Possibilities: could less be more?

The first IFHP Housing Conference takes place in The Hague

International Federation for Housing and Planning is organizing an Housing debate amongst policy makers, practitioners, mayors and private sector organizations involved in the delivery of affordable, adequate and sustainable housing. The conference is organized as a high level, interactive and learning event to enable knowledge exchange and sharing of experience between peers and interested parties from Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America.

The Hague Housing Conference is a think tank to share ideas, network and cross-fertilize with global housing experts. Under the title “Rediscovering Housing Possibilities: could less be more?“, the conference will take place in the city of The Hague on 14 February, 2013, from 9:00 to 18:00, at the Bel Air Hotel, The Hague, The Netherlands.

For more information visit the International Federation for Housing and Planning website.

Tackling Health Inequalities through Investing in Housing

CECODHAS Housing Europe, the European Public Health Alliance (EPHA) and the European Parliament Urban Intergroup are organizing a seminar at the European Parliament in Brussels along the theme “Tackling Health Inequalities through Investing in Housing: Quality housing for population health and equity: EU cross-sector collaboration amidst health and social crises“. The event will take place on January 22, 2013. CECODHAS is a supporting partner of the Housing Forum Europe & Central Asia.

The purpose of this seminar will be to bring issues of housing, poverty, inequalities, health and wellbeing in line, and to qualify the extent of the problem by bringing in speakers from EU and international institutions, as well as acclaimed academics. The meeting will aim at informing cross-sectorial civil society actors on potential of more comprehensive advocacy on health-housing links and showing the potential of benefits between social housing organisations and public health organisations.

For far too long, housing and health have remained in fundamentally separate policy silos. The introduction of a ‘health in all policies’ approach has started to increase the impetus towards searching for win-win situations, for synergies between health and other areas – notably housing. Housing conditions affect people’s health. If these conditions are of poor quality, inadequate or unaffordable; or even simply speaking – unavailable per definition of being homeless, people’s health gets compromised and damaged beyond repair on a longer run.

The event will be of particular interest and importance for the representatives of civil society organisations dealing directly and indirectly with health and housing issues, wishing to learn on health-housing links, analyse on recent developments at EU policy level on health and housing, explore on potentials for increased advocacy and use of EU funds on a health-housing link, and build up and/or expand their cross-sectoral network for future partnerships and collaboration.

Draft agenda and registration on this page

CECODHAS are a network of national and regional housing federations of housing organisations. Together the 43 members in 18 European members States manage 25 million dwellings which represent 12% of the total housing stock.

Its members work together for a Europe that provides access to decent and affordable housing for all in communities which are socially, economically and environmentally sustainable and where all are enabled to reach their full potential.