While access to affordable, safe housing has been deemed a fundamental right, it is still not within reach for residents of many European countries. Indeed, in 2015 nearly 17% of the EU’s population lived in overcrowded dwellings, with nearly 25m people suffering from severe housing deprivation. Building more affordable and better quality housing requires financial mechanisms to be in place and readily available to would-be tenants, private landowners and government institutions. Money and investment are key, as are models of finance that blend public, private and civil society investors. But if housing is to play its part in economic growth, then combining models of finance with alternative approaches to ownership and the wider context of urban planning is essential. Across Europe and beyond, states, cities and civil society are rising to this challenge. While there can be no one-size-fits-all solutions in providing access to affordable housing, it is important to share lessons-learned in order to identify successful practices.
This event lays the foundation for a Housing Solutions Platform that seeks to create connections, stimulate debate and trigger change to support the financing of affordable housing as one of its five areas of focus, also including supply, demand, regulation and urban planning. This first platform meeting will bring together 50-60 senior stakeholders from across housing policy areas, as well as local, national and EU-level policymakers and investors, to debate and identify innovative practices in the housing finance arena, with the aim of identifying the good, the bad and the ugly of housing finance in order to inform future-looking policies and practices in this area.
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The Housing Solutions Platform is a new, expertise- and practice-driven initiative to identify, debate and promote innovative solutions for affordable housing in Europe. It is a joint initiative of Friends of Europe, FEANTSA, Housing Europe and the Fondation Abbé Pierre. The platform seeks to make a contribution to addressing Europe’s housing crises. It will connect people, ideas, tools and practices to help generate housing solutions. The Platform aims to go beyond the usual prescriptions and debates.
10.30 - 11.00
Welcome coffee and registration of participants
11.00 - 11.30
Introductory remarks and idea-sharing
11.30 - 13.00
SESSION I: HOUSING, SOCIAL INCLUSION AND ECONOMIC MOBILITY
Amidst growing homelessness in Europe, identifying and implementing innovative and effective policies to meet current needs presents both a financial and political challenge. However, addressing such a shortage of affordable housing has been increasingly recognized as an urgent step of action not only towards ensuring protection of this particular human right, but also towards tackling the current and future socio-economic challenges that it presents for cities and their inhabitants. Looking to examples like Finland and Barcelona’s responses to homelessness, what are the connections between housing, social inclusion and economic mobility?
- What are the unmet housing needs and emerging challenges?
- Can housing drive economic and social gains?
- How do cities deal with the social challenges related to the shortage of affordable/social housing and with economic stability of the end beneficiaries?
- What programmes have cities put into place to generate affordable housing?
13.00 - 14.00
14.00 - 15.30
SESSION II: INNOVATIONS IN HOUSING FINANCE
Exacerbated by Europe’s debt crisis of 2009, housing initiatives in EU Member States that aim to respond to housing provision needs have faced major financial obstacles. In order to design, propose and implement practices and policies to reduce housing exclusion and support economic mobility, financial mechanisms that incorporate both public and private funding must be set in motion. Attracting such investments has been one of the key challenges as it is often hampered by a high level of financial uncertainty in this area. What innovative financing instruments and approaches are being implemented to balance housing supply and demand, tackle inefficient and costly housing markets, and improve housing systems? And who are the investors?
- What are the public-private or private-tenant shareholder models? What are the investment gaps?
- What is the role for the European Commission in financing innovative housing solutions? How are they financed and who pays and gets paid back? Do these models work?
- How will the Multi-annual Financial Framework review affect housing policy and economy?
15.30 - 16.00
Wrap-up of ideas and solutions and end of roundtable
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