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The Publication      The initiative         Documents & links



The initiative


What it is about
Decent and affordable housing is a fundamental human need, and a basic human right. Nonetheless the challenge of ensuring housing for all, and thereby also contributing to the eradication of poverty and social exclusion, is still immense in a number of countries.

In a European Union where some 44 million citizens are at risk of poverty and where housing often accounts for more than 40% of a household's budget, access to housing should not be seen as an objective in isolation, but should indeed be a horizontal priority of economic and social policy formulation in the European Union and the Member States.

What policies
Whereas social housing first and foremost is a social policy issue, the overlapping of several policy areas cannot be ignored. 

As the issue touches upon competition policy, social inclusion policies, as well as the use of structural funds, while also depending on the state of the global financial markets and the architecture of the European single market, it is imperative that it is addressed through an integrated and comprehensive approach. 

Furthermore, in the pursuit of the Europe2020 agenda, eradicating homelessness and improving access to social housing, and thereby addressing both poverty and social exclusion, a common EU strategy and a platform for joining forces is required.

The current political conjuncture
During the ongoing financial, economic and social crisis, poverty and unemployment rates, social exclusion and housing needs have been on the rise. 

Meanwhile, the Conservative and Neo-Liberal majorities across the EU have been imposing strict austerity measures and public spending cuts. 

Local and regional authorities see their capacities in delivering social policy being strangled and more and more of their citizens put in an increasingly difficult situation.

The PES Group in the Committee of the Regions is well aware of the urgency of the matter, and has thus also been active in promoting a European Agenda for Social Housing since October 2004 already. 

Most recently we hosted a seminar Social Housing in November 2010, once again highlighting the necessity for urgent EU action.

The adoption by the PES Group of a set of concrete conclusions completed the event. The PES Group in the CoR is fully committed to pushing for an EU agenda on social housing, and we are confident that the momentum is right. 

This is why we are joining forces with the Party of European Socialists in their 2011 campaign “Together we can protect you from the crisis”. We join our voices to those that are fighting against 'Austerity Europe' and call for coordinated action at EU level.



Latest developments
In 2008 and 2009, there were several appeals by the competent European authorities to pay more attention to homelessness. In June 2010, the long-awaited Europe2020 strategy was adopted, outlining an action plan for the EU to work towards creating jobs and promoting 'smart, sustainable and inclusive growth'. 

Two relevant, concrete goals put forward are to 'increase the employment rate from 69% to 75%' and to 'reduce the number of people living in poverty by 20 million'.

Under the Belgian Presidency of the EU Council (July-December 2010), a Consensus Conference on Homelessness was held on 9-10 December in Brussels 2010. The recommendations report from the Consensus Conference calls for an EU homelessness strategy with a "housing-led policy approach" rather than the traditional approach of creating shelters and other temporary accommodation. 

Only a few days later, the European Parliament issued a written declaration on EU homelessness, calling for EU action to end street homelessness by 2015 and on Eurostat to start collecting EU homelessness data, which is unavailable to date.

In February 2011, a report issued by a group of social policy experts, chaired by Frank Vandenbroucke, former minister for social affairs in the Belgian federal government, calls on the European Commission to develop an EU strategy for tackling homelessness. 

At the same time the European Court of Justice has a court ruling pending on EU state aid issues, which will have an impact on social landlords in particular and therefore a decisive impact on the access to social housing by whom, i.e. the poorest only, or social housing to all. 

A lot remains to be done but social housing is firmly anchored in the European agenda. The aim of this campaign is to speed up the process and ensure decent and affordable housing for all.

A lot remains to be done but social housing is firmly anchored in the European agenda. 


Documents & links

Contributions by PES Group members
The European Platform against poverty and exclusion
by PES Group rapporteur Christine CHAPMAN
(Member of the National Assembly of Wales, UK)

The Am Beutelweg Cooperative Housing Association as a force driving the social development of urban districts
by Margit Conrad, State Secretary of Rhineland-Palatinate for Federal and European Affairs (Germany)

The Obstacles to housing of Vulnerable groups
by PES Group Michael COHEN, Mayor of Kalkara (Malta)

Combating the threat of rural homelessness – a case study
by PES Group member Leszek SWIETALSKI, Mayor of Stare Bogaczowice (Poland)


Contribution by PES Group member Mireille LACOMBE, member of the General Council of the Puy-de-Dôme Department (France)

Housing policy to promote social inclusion in the Basque Country, Contribution by PES Group member Patxi LOPEZ ALVAREZ, President of the Basque Country (Spain)
Combatting Homelessness
by PES Group rapporteur Tore HULT
(Vice-president of Alingsås Municipal Council, Sweden)

Contribution submitted by PES Group member, Alain HUTCHINSON, Member of the Brussels Regional Parliament (Brussels)

People at the heart of regeneration
by PES Group member Corrie McCHORD, Member of the Stirling Council (UK)

Social mix and social housing model project
by PES Group member Sonia MASINI, President of the Province of Reggio Emilia (Italy)

Contribution by PES Group member, Jean-Louis DESTANS, President of the General Council of Eure (FR)

Contribution submitted by PES Group member Elisabeth VITOUCH, member of the Vienna City Council

Contribution by PES Group member, Stanislav EICHLER, Member of the Liberec Regional Council (CZ)


Documents & websites on housing issues 
Actual briefing from IUT Brussels: Will the "Dutch case" be followed by a "French case"?, July 2012

Article sur la Convention du PSE et sur l'événement du Groupe PSE, sur le site d'Alain Hutchinson (PSE), rapporteur du CdR sur "un agenda européen pour le logement social", et membre du parlement bruxellois

Housing conditions in Europe in 2009 - 30 million people in the EU suffered both lack of space and poor housing conditions
Eurostat 2011

Conclusions of the PES Group Seminar "Down and Out: more than a roof over my head", organised on 17 February in Brussels
EN fr de

Brussels Action plan to fight poverty 2009-2014

L'exclusion sociale et le Logement - document du Rassemblement bruxellois pour le Droit à l'Habitat (Social exclusion and housing - document from the Brussels Association for the Right to Housing)

Written declaration of the European Parliament on the principles of subsidiarity and diversity in defining the particular missions assigned
to social housing by the Member States

"Low cost ed eco-compatibile da casa popolare a social house"
(Google-translated English version here)

Consensus Conference on Homelessness
9 & 10 December 2010, Brussels
The European Housing Forum 2012 Lecture Series - Active Ageing and Intergenerational Solidarity - The role of Housing

Le logement social pour qui ? Perspectives européennes
© Centre d'analye stratégique - juillet 2011

Recommendations report from the Consensus Conference on Homelessness, organised by the Belgian Presidency of the Council of the EU, on 9-10 December 2010,

The Social Situation in the European Union 2009
See the section dedicated to housing issues
(pages 99-188)

Social barometer on the state of poverty in Brussels

Declaration by the International Union of Tenants (IUT) on State aids for housing corporations in the Netherlands

Une nouvelle résidence en coeur de ville
(Google-translated English version here)

Commodities, Markets and Social Democracy,
10 February 2011 - © Social Europe Journal (John Weeks)

Member states urged to eradicate homelessness
9 February 2011 - © euractiv.com

« Le logement et l’économie : des politiques à rénover » (Housing and economy: policies to be renewed) 20 January 2011 - OECD
(Google-translated English version here)




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