MOTION FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT RESOLUTION ON SOCIAL HOUSING IN THE EUROPEAN UNION

The Committee on Employment and Social Affairs has adopted on 30 April 2013 a report and an motion on social housing.
The importance of this report and motion is that the committee goes byond the problem of social housing in Europe and that they give answers to different problems of housing.

Here you find the explanatory statement of the report.
A link to the report you will find at the bottom of this post

The value of this report lies in showing the extent to which the social housing sector offers leverage to help the European Union out of the economic, social and environmental crisis. An estimated 25 million European citizens live in social housing. All the Member States except Greece have social housing stock, the volume of which varies considerably from one country to another and particularly between the western Member States and the eastern ones which most recently joined the Union. Social housing needs also vary within Member States between urban and rural areas and, within conurbations, between city centres and outlying areas.

The provision of social housing is one of the ways in which public authorities respond to the shortcomings of the market, with the aim of ensuring universal access to decent affordable housing.

The EU Member States determine and organise the provision of social housing – in parallel and in addition to the unplanned, market-based housing supply – offered subject to specific conditions of access and at set rents and provided not only by non-profit operators established specifically for that purpose but also by private investors, individuals or legal entities who have a remit to that effect and are subsidised by national, regional or local authorities.

Despite these arrangements many EU citizens can no longer afford access to decent housing. In 2010, 5.7% of Europe’s population suffered from housing deprivation , whereas it is one of the aims of the Council of Europe’s revised Social Charter gradually to eliminate homelessness. Moreover, 17.86% of the population were living in overcrowded or unfit accommodation and 10.10% of households faced excess housing costs, at a level of more than 40% of their available income.

The failure of the market to satisfy all housing needs affects not only those people who are simply excluded from access to housing but also those who are living in unfit, unsuitable or overcrowded homes.

There is an urgent social need for investment in the social housing sector. Europe is experiencing a severe, long-term housing crisis which might well be escalating despite the regular stirrings of public opinion EU-wide during the winter, when it seems that the problems of the homeless cannot be allowed to continue.

Social inequalities are growing, the unemployment rate is soaring, 120 million Europeans are poor or at risk of poverty, and the private housing market is responding ever less effectively to the growing demand from the poorest households everywhere in Europe. At a time when levels of rent and energy prices are rising steeply, housing benefits are coming under pressure as the debt crisis drives governments to sacrifice social expenditure and, indeed, to cut down their social housing stock – at the expense of social and regional cohesion. In these circumstances it becomes increasingly difficult to implement the right to affordable housing, even though other fundamental rights depend upon it.

Social inclusion necessarily requires a sufficient supply of affordable, good-quality social housing as part of the response to health challenges. Other essential factors are resources combating energy poverty and a set of objective and transparent criteria for the allocation of housing, subject to proper governance in the interests of an integrated approach and a social mix, thus combating various forms of discrimination.

Investment in social housing is also a means of responding to population ageing and dependency among elderly people, to the specific needs of young people and to the need to include marginalised communities and the homeless.

On the economic front, investing in social housing means boosting construction, which has been hard hit by the crisis, as well as renovation, particularly the heat efficiency and renewable energy sectors – high-return industries with the capacity to generate green jobs that are local and cannot be ‘off-shored’.

Next to transport, housing is the sector with the greatest potential for making savings. Social housing can thus contribute to meeting the climate targets in the Europe 2020 strategy, thereby addressing environmental imperatives and at the same time reducing household energy bills as well as energy dependency.

Having a sufficient supply of social housing helps to smooth out the cyclical nature of the property market and to lessen the impact of phenomena such as property bubbles, which destabilise economies. The Union’s macro-economic and budgetary surveillance system needs to take greater account of investment in social housing.

It is important to recognise the added value of Structural Fund monies and European Investment Bank loans in stimulating social housing investment. In particular, these monies facilitate the development of further and vocational training in green industries and the creation of thousands of decent, local jobs that cannot be ‘off-shored’. It must be ensured, in the next multi-annual financial framework, that sufficient funding from these sources is available, that it can be readily accessed and that unspent monies can be more easily reallocated to social housing.

motion on social housing

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