How to implement the right to housing?
Government decisions can kill or save lives: the COVID-19 health crisis has given a sharp perspective to the fact that public policies ensuring housing adequacy and affordability are vital. In the last few months, governments across Europe have invested unprecedented efforts into saving those at risk, with cities implementing exceptional strategies and measures to keep everyone accommodated. In some cases, this has nearly reduced homelessness to zero. However, following the peak of the emergency last spring, long-term affordable, suitable and dignified solutions became a mandate that cannot be ignored. EU-level housing organisation representatives (Eurocities, EU Urban Agenda Housing Partnership, OECD, IUT, Housing Europe) presented the impact of the health crisis on housing, emphasising the financialisation of the sector as a key factor of the major consequence of the crisis: the increased inequalities in accessing adequate and affordable housing.
Take away message
- The pandemic has exacerbated housing issues, such as the financialisation of the sector, gentrification processes and the decline of public and affordable housing.
- Cities have taken action during the crisis to provide a roof to vulnerable people. In Ghent and Barcelona, they transformed tourist flats and sports facilities for the homeless.
- The recovery plan offers new financial possibilities for increasing cities' capacity to invest in affordable housing.
“Local perspectives are pivotal in ensuring a debate that identifies the crucial needs for our society. The EU Pillar of Social Rights and the new Action Plan should include affordable housing, as it is the starting point in re-imagining a better society.” Silvia Ganzerla, Policy Director, EUROCITIES
“The pandemic has exacerbated the issues already present, such as the financialisation of the sector, gentrification and the decline of public and affordable housing, and also the high degree of fragmentation and distortion and the great regional disparities.” Michaela Kauer, Coordinator of the EU Urban Agenda Housing Partnership, City of Vienna, Austria
“With a 16% income gap and a 40% pension gap between women and men, the housing crisis has a female face.” Michaela Kauer, Coordinator of the EU Urban Agenda Housing Partnership, City of Vienna, Austria