Fri, 26 Feb 2021

A new resolution could solve the housing emergency in Europe

Independent Australia
20 Jan 2021, 07:52 GMT+10

Soon to be voted on by the European Parliament, a new resolution could remove many constraints and kickstart an economic aid plan to eliminate the housing problem on the old continent.

20 January 2021 could be a historic date for the European Union. The final vote on the resolution 'Access to decent and affordable housing for all' will happen, which could be the foundation stone for solving the housing emergency in Europe.

There are currently more than 700,000 homeless people and more than 80 million people have difficulty paying their rent. The resolution, presented by Dutch MEP Kim Van Sparrentak of the European Green Party, sets as her goals to eliminate homelessness in Europe by 2030 - which has increased by 70% in the last ten years - to oppose evictions and create inclusive housing markets.

Additional goals are increasing affordable housing, developing a European housing strategy, fighting housing discrimination and prioritise the European Green Deal by targeting the renovation of at least 3% of the European housing stock every year.

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Proactive government policy is needed to ensure that all can access appropriate housing, writes Karl Fitzgerald.

Says Van Sparrentak:

What would change

Besides the importance of the intentions of this resolution, if it passes and the EU Commission respects it, some things will change in the politics of the European Union.

Cesare Ottolini, global coordinator of the International Alliance of Inhabitants (IAI), one of the organisations that have been fighting against housing deprivation for years, said:

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Australia is spending $225 billion on 12 submarines whereas one-third of this spend could end all forms of homelessness.

€57 billion a year is missing

According to the report 'Boosting investment in social infrastructure in Europe', also referred to on the EU website, the Global Financial Crisis has significantly reduced public investment in affordable and social housing across Europe. Today, there is an estimated lack of investment in affordable and social housing in EU countries of about 57 billion euro (AU$89.4 billion) per year.

This lack is also reflected in the figures. In Europe, 9.6% of families and 48% of young people spend more than 40% of their income on rent. If we go into specifics, we find, for example, that about 50% of Romanians live in overcrowded housing, 16% of Germans spend more than 40% of their income on rent and one person in 70 in Athens, Greece, is homeless.

Barbara Steenbergen of International Union of Tenants (IUT) explains:

A blight on the whole EU

Leila Chaibi, the shadow rapporteur of the resolution (the political groups may designate a shadow rapporteur for each report to follow the progress of the relevant report and find compromises within the committee on behalf of the group), said:

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Amidst the worst economic crisis in almost a century, young Australians are increasingly worried about housing prices rising out of their reach.

A speculative problem

Steenbergen continues:

According to the data, without being sure that this is part of housing speculation, in recent years the purchase of property by foreign companies has increased in Madrid by 180% and in Amsterdam by 250%, with costs in the latter case rising by 45%. The "buy to leave" phenomenon, on the other hand, has led cities such as Paris to have 7% of their housing stock empty. 40% of these aren't even connected to the electricity grid.

These phenomena may have affected the rental market in which even small landlords often ask for more housing to reduce the eviction problem, for example.

Cesare Ottolini said:

Francesco Bertolucci is a freelance Italian journalist.

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