One of the key challenges that urban authorities are called on to tackle is access to affordable housing. This issue is rooted in more than 30 years of housing market deregulation which has been worsened by the financial and economic crisis of 2007 and dug the affordable housing gap, making living, buying, renting adequate homes more and more challenging. In general terms, cities lack affordable and social housing across all tenures, while some suffer from housing vacancies and decaying stock. In 2015, 11.3 % of the EU-28 population lived in households that spent more than 40 % of their income on housing. Vulnerable or excluded groups in society (elderly, lone parents, people with disabilities, homeless, long-term unemployed, migrants, etc.) are particularly exposed to low-quality housing and have greater difficulties accessing social and sustainable housing. Hence, sustained access to affordable housing presents complex undertaking as it is highly linked to multiple issues - economic, environmental and social.
In order to help address these challenges, Urban Innovative Actions invited cities in Europe to put forward innovative projects addressing:
- Economic issues. Housing affordability is the central focus of the topic. A number of crosscutting issues are linked to it such as energy efficiency and sustainable use of land, local jobs and innovative financing schemes.
- Sustainability issues. The second set of the EU suggestions focused on limiting waste through efficient use of resources, recyclability of housing, brownfield redevelopment and housing refurbishment.
- Social and quality related issues. The concluding set of suggestions aimed to inspire people-based solutions, such as quality housing solutions corresponding to different life courses, consideration of demographic trends, desegregation, prevention of gentrification and consideration of the needs of vulnerable groups, among others.