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3rd Europe Housing Forum Closes | Call for Integrated EU Policy Approach

hf_1On November 18 – 20, more than 120 attendees gathered in Berlin for the 3rd Europe Housing Forum. The three days of presentations and discussions by some of the leading thinkers in the areas of affordability, sustainability and livability resulted in forming of concrete recommendations as a step towards developing Europe’s housing agenda.

Leilani Fahra, UN Special Rapporteur, Adequate Housing, opened the forum reminding everyone that housing is a basic human right.  She also stated migration and refugees will not ‘go away’ and more needs to be done to respond to their needs.

Greg Foster, EMEA Vice President, Habitat for Humanity International, stated, “The forum highlights the critical needs in Europe’s housing market.  More needs to be done and participants came up with very workable recommendations.”

Participants developed a set of recommendations that included calls for the EU and nation states across the region to:

  • Increase housing stocks so people have affordable, safe, and decent places to live.
  • Develop new financing initiatives and housing models that will make housing across all income levels more available.
  • Increase and expand sustainability initiatives beyond energy efficiency to include a more inclusive approach to urban planning to reduce segregation and social exclusion.
  • Develop new policies that improve livability through an integrated provision of transport, employment, social care, hospitals, schools and safety to create a more cohesive community.

EU MEP Jan Olbrycht, President URBAN Intergroup, gave the closing keynote address accepting the recommendations and telling participants that a new housing committee will work for three years to develop a more fully integrated approach to the needs of the region.  He said more details on the committee, which will start work in January 2016, will be available shortly.

The meeting was organized by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, UN-Habitat, UNECE, UNDP and Habitat for Humanity International.

Presentations and more information about the forum and its results will be posted on ecahousingforum.eu

For further information about the 3rd Europe Housing Forum, please contact Katerina Bezgachina atkbezgachina@habitat.org

Europeans can hardly afford to live in Europe

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fdHabitat for Humanity launches Housing Review 2015 

The housing crisis sparked by the 2008 global financial meltdown is far from over in Europe. An in-depth look at the region in Habitat for Humanity’s biannual Housing Review show this ‘silent emergency’ is getting worse and at a faster rate.

Some of the key takeaways from the report include:

  • More than 10% of Europeans have housing costs that exceed half of their household’s income. In Central and Eastern Europe, it’s even worse with some households spend 30- 50% of income on winter heating bills.
  • The percentage of young adults aged 18-34 living with parents is at record highs, reaching 55% in Portugal to 74% in Slovenia, creating “generation rent”.
  • New housing construction has dropped across the region by 70-90% with social housing running well below 10% of the current needs.  This has forced citizens to live in inadequate housing or emigrate to find a decent home.
  • There is an increasing gap between poverty and affluence in dynamic urban centers creating the “new housing poverty” phenomenon where skilled and highly trained professionals move to commuter zones because they can no longer afford living in cities.

What is clear is that Europe needs to find ways to develop and provide housing for its citizens regardless of income. The report recommends increased investment in housing to make it more affordable, sustainable and, ultimately, more livable.  Solutions range from new funding and lending options; better and more extensive use of modern building technologies and materials to reduce energy costs and environmental impact; and housing policies that promote social integration and neighborhood regeneration.

With the arrival of hundreds of thousands of refugees from conflicts in the Middle East and Africa over the past 18 months, the housing problems in Europe will only get worse.  The report highlights the lack of access to decent housing, a basic human right, could have severe economic and social implications in the years to come.

For detailed information, Housing Review 2015 is now available online.

Europe faces daunting task on refugees but housing is a human right

4022Western European countries face a huge task trying to house and integrate refugees, but must take some responsibility for creating the crisis, says the United Nations housing envoy.

Leilani Farha , the UN special rapporteur on the right to adequate housing, says pressure on European countries to act quickly in response to the influx of refugees could exacerbate the problem of social exclusion, as people are housed in poor, temporary conditions.

There has been a varied response across the continent to the high numbers of refugees seeking a place to settle. “I’ve actually been very pleased with some of the responses,” says Farha. “I would imagine if I were the leader of a country like Sweden, Germany or France, it would be pretty daunting, when refugees appear on the doorstep of states, to say yes, come in. Of course, in my opinion, there is a moral obligation to do so.”

That moral obligation comes in part from states recognising, as Farha puts it, their own role in creating a world order that forces people to flee their countries for safety.

Read more in the interview on the Guardian.

Download Leilani Farha’s presentation at the 3rd Europe Housing Forum.

Privatising UK social housing won’t work – just look at Europe

Damning report exposes Europe’s escalating housing crisis

3500Europe is experiencing a “silent emergency” for housing, with the number of young adults living with their parents now at an all-time high, according to a study.

Research conducted by Habitat for Humanity, a non-profit NGO dedicated to promoting affordable housing around the world, found that the 2008 housing crisis triggered by the global financial crash is by no means over in Europe.

Experts warn that continuing problems, such as exploding costs and the numbers of young adults forced to live at home, are likely to have a major economic and social impact across the region.

According to the report, released on Thursday:

  • More than 10% of Europeans shoulder housing costs – including rent and heating – in excess of half their household’s income. In central and eastern Europe, households spend between 30 and 50% of their income solely on winter heating, and rising household costs are contributing to poverty levels and raising the likelihood of people losing their homes.
  • The numbers of young adults aged between 18 and 34 who are living with their parents is now at an all-time high. The situation is worst in Slovenia, where 74% still live at home, in Italy it’s 66% and in Portugal it’s 55%.
  • Construction of new homes has plummeted by between 70 and 90% in recent years, and the amount of social housing does not even cover 10% of people’s needs.

The study’s authors also stress the rise of a ‘housing poverty’ reality, which has been created by the growing gap between poverty and affluence in economically vibrant urban centres, and that forces skilled and highly trained professionals to move outside of cities because they they have been priced out of them.

Read more in the article on the Guardian.