Wednesday, June 29, 2022
Housing affordability and sustainability is currently a huge challenge in Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe. Due to the weak social and public housing sector, and the mass privatization of the housing stock in the 1990s, housing is almost entirely left to market forces. Many households do not have the necessary capital to purchase a home - especially in the context of skyrocketing prices - nor do they qualify for a mortgage. Market rental prices are increasing faster than income levels. Households struggle to cover housing expenses; some are threatened with eviction, and household debt is growing. Young people are dependent on older generations, adding to the existing pressures to migrate. Furthermore, existing housing solutions are oftentimes not taking into account the needs of evolving household structures and demographic realities. The existing housing stock is also in dire need of refurbishment to reduce energy consumption and utility costs. The institutional landscape of housing provision is severely underdeveloped. This is especially problematic because the development and strengthening of organizations engaged in the field of affordable housing provision could make a crucial difference. Existing examples for housing associations, limited equity or rental-based housing cooperatives, and other forms of nonprofit housing providers are usually small in their scope, and require an enabling environment to expand. In this session, we will explore what these enabling conditions could be, and showcase some of the solutions developed in the region in response to the housing affordability and sustainability crisis. We will hear from residents and housing professionals that are not only responding to the crisis but also reinventing affordable housing from the bottom up. (1) The MOBA housing model, a pioneering cooperative housing solution based on collective development, financing, ownership and management of housing units will provide examples from Hungary and Serbia. Through this model, households are not only residents but develop all steps leading to their affordable and permanent housing solution. (2) Habitat for Humanity Poland has been promoting a systemic model of support to self-built housing cooperatives as an affordable housing solution through project support at all stages of the housing development and the drafting of enabling legal frameworks and regulations. A self-built housing cooperative is an initiative of a group of families working together to acquire a property in order to develop or refurbish a multi-family building. (3) The Housing Initiative for Eastern Europe (IWO) is a membership organization gathering private and public partners to support a market-based, sustainable, ecologically and socially compatible development of the housing and building sectors in Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia. IWO is one of the initiators of the cooperative housing umbrella organization LiM (Living in Metropolises SCE).
The aim of the event is to bring together a broad range of cooperative, people-led and participatory housing initiatives from across the region to share experiences, learn from one another and strengthen the affordable and collective housing movement. The session will seek to identify pathways for more sustainable and affordable housing futures in Central, Eastern and South-eastern Europe. It will do so by highlighting the aforementioned existing initiatives, and by inviting the audience to contribute with further examples. The networking format will allow for discussions and mapping key actors and initiatives with the audience and encourage peer learning. During the session, connections will be made and collaborations envisioned. Alongside discussing existing housing alternatives, the session will also focus on enabling frameworks and policies, as much as explore ways of articulating local and national housing policies with affordable, people-led and cooperative housing initiatives. Policy-makers, social and affordable housing providers, financial institutions, researchers and municipalities are particularly encouraged to attend.