Financing affordable social housing in Europe (UN-Habitat, 2009)

  • Financing affordable social housing in Europe

  • The principal author is Michael Oxley. Published by UN-Habitat in 2009

  • Available as a PDF file on the International Union of Tenants site:

  • Summary:

    • This report evaluates the range of approaches to financing social housing that are in operation in Europe.

    • It identifies the key features that may be replicable in other countries particularly the developing world.

    • The evaluation is placed in the context of

      • the purpose of social housing,

      • the sources of funds of social housing

      • and the institutions that are used to provide social housing.

    • The size and composition of the social housing stock in different countries and the types of provider are identified.

    • The importance of the rent setting method and the allocation system are explained.

    • The relationships between public and private sources of funds and the conditions that promote a flow of commercial funding into social housing are identified.

    • The structure of European social housing finance systems and the roles of loans, subsidies and equity financing are explored.

    • Finance for construction and maintenance is considered and subsidies from public funds as well as cross-subsidies from other sectors of the economy are explored.

    • The effectiveness of social housing finance systems in achieving their purpose and the issues that influence the transferability of European approaches to other countries are discussed.

  • Keywords: housing crisis, affordability, social housing, financialisation of housing

Interestingly, in her foreword to the report, Anna Tibaijuka, the then-executive director of UN-Habitat, and this was back in 2009, states: "The global housing crisis, especially in the developing world, is getting worse by the day making the right to adequate shelter a quest that is becoming more and more difficult to meet".

One can see today's housing crisis as just the most recent phase of a decades-long process in which decent housing has generally been getting less and less affordable almost everywhere.

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