The ICCARus (Gent Knapt Op) project, ‘Improving housing Conditions for CAptive Residents in Ghent’, helped captive homeowners living in poor quality houses but lacking the financial means and social skills to renovate them. ICCARus built on the experience of ‘Dampoort Knapt Op’, a 2015 neighbourhood housing renovation initiative, which had renovated 25 homes.
ICCARUs aimed to improve living conditions, including making homes safer, energy efficient, and better adapted to people’s changing needs (e.g., of the elderly) by offering tailored support to residents and empowering them as active citizens. This support included a choice between resident-guided renovation of houses and flats, such as installing smoke detectors, updating the electrical system, renewing and insulating the roof, replacing single/old double glazing, installing central heating, updating or renewing bathrooms, etc. ICCARus also provided temporary housing to host people during the renovation works, until the residents can move back to their primary residence.
To make renovations possible, ICCARus set up a revolving fund with financial contribution of up to 30,000 euros based on the principle of subsidy retention. This ensures that the subsidy and any increase in value returns to the city’s fund if the home is sold or transferred (e.g., through inheritance). Through this initiative, the city of Ghent and its partners addressed a spectrum of socio-economic objectives, such as dignified and healthy sustainable and affordable housing, greater comfort in the home, and compliance with the Flemish building code.