On 13 June 2014, Housing Rights Watch, along with Fondation Abbe Pierre and FEANTSA organized an expert workshop to talk about housing solutions for homeless people in Europe.
We brought a new set of potential allies together to talk about their own experiences, but more importantly to brainstorm innovative ideas. How can we make more housing available for homeless people, for people who are most severely affected by the financial and housing crisis? How can we free up social housing stock that needs to be renovated? Can we convince banks and local authorities to open up the empty housing they hold to families who need it? What regulations and policies are in place in Europe to ensure a healthy balance between homeownership and rental properties in the housing market?
The goal of the meeting was to find new partners and consider these questions from different perspectives. We also found ourselves with a long list of interesting possibilities for future cooperation.
There is a clear demand to share information about different policies and practices – both from NGOs and policy-makers – with the goal of improving and increasing the stock of affordable housing. We will use this website as a place to start considering these options and making plans together.
A more detailed report from the Expert Workshop will follow shortly, but in the meantime, please read the presentations and follow the links to the different examples that were discussed on 13 June.
For more information contact us at: Samara.Jones@feantsa.org
Coordinator – Housing Rights Watch
This event is designed to bring together experts working in housing, including housing economics, law, housing rights, homeless services, social housing, financing and foundations, local governments, academics and other groups and individuals.
The goal is to start conversations that can lead to solutions. Solutions to the housing crisis which persists in Europe and that can help to address the growing need for affordable housing.
The economic crisis and resultant austerity measures have made it difficult for local authorities to respect, let alone promote, housing rights across Europe. Furthermore, the crisis and austerity measures have led to an increase in the number of families and individuals who are homeless or at risk of losing their home due to rent arrears, mortgage arrears, job losses, etc.
The housing crisis – which clearly plays a role in the economic crisis – features a paradox: houses and apartments stand empty in cities across Europe while thousands of people wait for years on waiting lists for social housing or simply cannot find and afford adequate accommodation.
Unfortunately, it is not simply a question of allocating empty apartments to families who need them, because location and geography are also crucial features of this crisis. People have lost their housing near to their jobs, or near to where there is hope of getting a job. Much of the surplus housing, particularly in Spain, is located in tourist-driven coastal areas which hold little prospect in terms of employment.
So, what can be done? How can we even talk about housing rights when local authorities and national governments are forced to cut benefits and are not building new affordable housing?
The time is right to talk about new solutions to the housing crisis. The time is right to share ideas and practices so that we can work together to test new ideas. We need housing solutions that respect and promote housing rights, and promote innovative ideas. This means bringing together people who tend to work in isolation – NGOs, civil society, financial institutions, house builders, landlords, governments and foundations. These kinds of solutions are only possible if we all work together.
This event is will be an expert workshop to create links, ideas and plans for a much larger event in 2015. Experts invited to this event will be asked to share their experience; to discuss with others ideas for real solutions that will make more housing available to those who need it: people who are homeless, at risk of homelessness, or facing eviction.
Key experts have been asked to give introductory presentations to stimulate discussions, but the groups will be kept deliberately small to allow participants to discuss examples and ideas for new ways of working together towards real solutions.
Languages: simultaneous interpretation into Spanish, English and French
image source: http://banksy.co.uk/