Housing is a right and progressive cities and regions are ready to defend it

4 July 2019
Housing is a right and progressive cities and regions are ready to defend it

Sign the “housing for all” initiative now

The lack of affordable housing is affecting around 82 million people in Europe, a population overburdened by housing costs. Since the 2008 crisis, investments in social housing have been cut in half.

Progressive cities and regions have become laboratories for innovative solutions: Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London) has pledged to cap Londonʼs rents; Berlinʼs left-wing government approved a plan to freeze rents for the next five years; Virginio Merola (Mayor of Bologna and member of the PES Group) has launched a €61 million plan to give homes to citizens in need, creating 1,000 homes in the process; and Michael Ludwig, Mayor of Vienna, has turned his city into a model of best practices for social housing in Europe and the world.

Recently, 10 cities have asked the European Union to intervene to support local authorities in countering the adverse effects of the boom in short-term holiday lets (such as rising rents for residents). Peter Florianschütz, member of the PES Group and councillor of Vienna, will lead a proposal in the European Committee of the Regions on how to legislate the collaborative economy. This has been instigated by the fact that cities need a European regulatory response to break the impact that companies like Airbnb have on the housing prices in many places in Europe.

The PES Group in the European Committee of the Regions has always been committed to the cities and regionsʼ fight to be free to plan, deliver and finance social housing. In order to be successful, a significant, stable and non-profit oriented long-term investment in social and affordable housing is needed, as reminded by the “Lyon Commitment - Towards an affordable housing society and Housing Europe”.

According to our Group, the European Union institutions should make housing a top priority by setting up an Agenda for Housing, as suggested by Frans Timmermans, the Party of European Socialistsʼ candidate for the Presidency of the European Commission.

Even though social housing is part of the principles of the European Pillar of Social Rights (adopted in Gothenburg, Sweden, in 2017), no concrete actions have been taken as a follow-up. The PES Group members have therefore decided to support the European Citizens’ Initiative “Housing for All” at their group meeting on 26 June 2019.

This initiativeʼs purpose is to induce better legal and financial framework conditions to facilitate access to housing for everyone in Europe. It also urges the EU to take action to facilitate access to housing for everyone in Europe. Although housing is a Member Statesʼ competence, the EU can nevertheless influence investments in social and affordable housing. Measures can include:

  • easier access for all to affordable, public and social housing;
  • not applying the Maastricht criteria to public investments in affordable, public and social housing;
  • better access to EU funding for public and non-profit housing developers;
  • social and competition-based rules for short-term rentals and
  • compiling statistics on housing needs in Europe at a local level.

We need one million signatures in order to ask the European Commission to take action.

Yes, housing is a human right. And it is time it becomes a priority for the European Union.



Photo credit: Kryszstof Story, Winner of the PES Group Photo Competition “My Social City” 2018.