The political group of PES, the Party of European Socialists, has decided to put housing at the top of the agenda for the recovery. To bring up the discussion on housing affordability, between 25th and 29th January, the political family in cooperation with the Socialist and Democrats Group in the European Parliament, the Foundation for European Progressive Studies (FEPS) and the City of Vienna organised a series of inspiring online debates framed by a Progressive Housing Week. Housing Europe has stressed the position of public, cooperative and social housing providers in Europe on several occasions.
The Affordable Housing Initiative - the EU project to revitalise 100 neighbourhoods as part of the Renovation Wave and to provide inclusive, sustainable neighbourhoods - was the centre of discussion on 27th January. The session was hosted by the Brussels Office of the City of Vienna whose director, Michaela Krauer features in the second episode of Housing Europe’s series that aim at shaping the Affordable Housing Initiative together with experts from the housing world.
Slawomir Tokarski, Director, European Commission's Directorate-General for the Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs (DG GROW), talked about the 3 main focus areas of the Renovation Wave - eradicating energy poverty and worst-performing buildings, renovation of public buildings including social housing and improving heating and cooling. By that, he explained that the Affordable Housing Initiative is supposed to combine technologies, such as digital, smart energy-efficient solutions, circular and modular renovation toolkits and eco-design, and use of renewables as energy resources. Secondly, human-centred business models, prompting social innovation and empowering citizens should be developed. Slawomir Tokarski also added that the renovated districts should be regularly monitored to ensure that they remain affordable.
Sorcha Edwards from Housing Europe underlined: "it is crucial that we get the Renovation Wave right and make sure it leaves no one behind. The Affordable Housing Initiative should be a wave to bring digital advances, affordability, social inclusion to the ground". Aligned with that, Elena Szolgayová, Housing 2030 initiative Co-Chair & UNECE HLM Committee Chair 2013 - 2019, nicely described that "it is up to governments to create a long-term vision to support the affordability of housing. The aim of Housing 2030 is to create a symphony, with all of the instruments working together to play beautiful music”. Regarding the financial difficulties which the middle- and low-income households are experiencing and which Covid-19 has made even more obvious, she also added:
"as the gap between the poor and the rich is growing and the question of housing becomes more pressing, we need to create long-term and sustainable visions to achieve the reality of affordable housing”.