Zuhause Ankommen, combatting homelessness in response to the covid-19 pandemic

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Zuhause Ankommen, combatting homelessness in response to the covid-19 pandemic

Mismatches Vulnerable groups Pandemics
Policies and regulations National policies Evaluation and impact
Promotion and production Public-private partnerships

Main objectives of the project

Amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, addressing immediate needs and enacting lasting solutions to societal challenges can be concurrent endeavors. 'Zuhause ankommen'—German for 'arriving home'—addresses the exacerbated housing issues during the pandemic while concurrently implementing a sustainable strategy to eradicate homelessness. From May 2021 to April 2022, the initiative allocated 240 apartments to accommodate 600 individuals lacking access to affordable housing across five regions in Austria. Financed by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Social Affairs, Health, Care, and Consumer Protection with €2.65 million, the project primarily targeted those severely impacted by the socio-economic consequences of Covid-19 measures, notably homeless individuals and those at risk of homelessness. 'Zuhause ankommen' establishes a diverse coalition of stakeholders committed to effectively addressing the complex issue of homelessness in a sustainable manner. By amplifying the Housing First approach to a national scale, the project currently operates through a supra-regional strategy with the objective of raising awareness about homelessness and providing tangible solutions.

Date

  • 2021: Implementation

Stakeholders

  • GBV
  • BAWO
  • ustrian Federal Ministry of Social Affairs, Health, Care, and Consumer Protection

Location

Continent: Europe
Country/Region: Austria

Description

The COVID-19 was a tough blow for the most vulnerable people. Despite the adminsitriave efforts, in many countries there was a rise in homelessness. This was also the risk in Austria. While subsidies on rent were provided by the Austrian government in 2020, experts including BAWO, the Austrian National Platform of Social Services Provided for the Homeless predicted a rise in poverty, evictions, and homelessness during the pandemic. On the other hand, limited-profit housing associations play a crucial role in fostering housing inclusion through affordable rents and their social mandate. Nonetheless, within this segment, the most vulnerable groups encounter structural challenges, particularly concerning upfront contributions from potential tenants, often unaffordable for those near or below the poverty line. So, there was a threat that they could not able to provide the needed help during the pandemic.

"Zuhause Ankommen" wanted to prevend all this. It serves as a model, addressing both immediate pandemic-induced homelessness and long-term homelessness. This initiative integrates the Austrian limited-profit housing sector, represented by GBV, with the social service sector, represented by BAWO. Collaborating member organizations allocate flats and offer social care, with project expenses funded by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Social Affairs, Health, Care, and Consumer Protection.

The project budget covers tenants' upfront contributions, moving expenses, and professional social support, facilitating access for those affected by poverty. Moreover, social organizations assist with home matching and provide support upon arrival, promoting self-sufficiency and independence. The project, closely monitored for fair access regarding age and gender, has allocated 240 flats to people affected by poverty and homelessness. Its success has led to more housing associations joining, furthering the adoption of the Housing First principle to end homelessness sustainably and promote reintegration. Presently, 38 housing associations participate.

Tenants and landlords benefit from tools developed in collaboration with social service organizations, ensuring stable tenancies. "Zuhause Ankommen" offers evidence of innovative housing solutions across Austrian regions, catering to diverse needs in rural and urban areas. Employing Housing First as an innovative method within homeless services, the initiative prioritizes housing as a starting point, offering stability to the most vulnerable.

The strategic communication of the project seek to change how the public views homelessness and the innovative solutions offered by "zuhause ankommen." Utilizing various channels such as social media, digital platforms, print media, and press coverage, the project's achievements and core messages are disseminated to stakeholders, interest groups, policymakers, and the general public.

The project's participatory approach focuses on matching suitable and affordable housing with potential tenants, fostering social inclusion, mixed communities, and stable tenancies. An evaluation process involving workshops and interviews with stakeholders and beneficiaries ensures ongoing improvement, with results informing future efforts against homelessness. By building knowledge and trust between the limited-profit housing sector and the social service sector, "Zuhause Ankommen" exemplifies a strategic, sustainable strategy to combat homelessness, earning recognition such as the European Responsible Housing Award 2022.

Aid for first refusal and withdrawal and to social entities for social renting (Catalonia, Spain)

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Aid for first refusal and withdrawal and to social entities for social renting (Catalonia, Spain)

Mismatches Vulnerable groups
Policies and regulations National policies Regulation
Financing Public funding Supply subsidies

Main objectives of the project

The housing crisis in Catalonia has led to the implementation of strategies such as the right of first refusal, which allows the public administration to intervene in real estate transactions to ensure the availability of social housing. To overcome financial constraints, the Catalan Credit Institute offers financial aid to social entities and the administration to facilitate the direct purchase or exercise of this right. These measures seek to expand the social housing market and guarantee favorable conditions for tenants in the long term.

Date

  • 2018: Implementation

Stakeholders

  • Institut Català de Finances (ICF)

Location

Continent: Europe
City: Barcelona
Country/Region: Barcelona, Spain

Description

Catalonia, one of the territories most affected by housing market tensions, especially after the 2008 financial crisis, has faced a considerable challenge in this area. Following the collapse of the private market and the historic increase in rental prices, the Catalan authorities have implemented various strategies to ensure the availability of social housing for its citizens. Among these strategies is the right of first refusal and withdrawal, established in the 2007 Housing Law, as well as collaboration with civil society organizations.

The right of first refusal allows the public administration to intervene in real estate transactions between private parties, acquiring the property in lieu of a third party, either before or after the transaction, at the same price agreed upon by the private parties. However, the obligation to acquire at the same price may limit the financial capacity of many administrations to exercise this right. To address this limitation, the Catalan Credit Institute (ICF, in catalan) has launched a program of grants for pre-emptive rights of first refusal and withdrawal. In addition, the same aids are extended to third sector entities that collaborate with the administration in the direct purchase or in the first refusal for social housing.

These aids are designed to facilitate the direct purchase or the exercise of the right of first refusal by social entities and the public administration. In exchange, these entities may receive an amount ranging from €25,000 to €10 million, with a maximum of €90,000 per housing unit. However, the property acquired through these subsidies is of a temporary nature, limited to a term of 75 years for these entities. This period, considered sufficient to repay the loan, allows for investments in profitable housing. In addition, these homes are usually destined for social renting, offering below-market rates and favorable conditions for tenants. At the end of the 75-year period, the property becomes public property.

Both city councils and companies dedicated to the promotion of public housing can also access this aid under the same conditions as the entities. Thus, this measure aims to involve all relevant actors in the acquisition and use of all available legal resources to promote social housing, without being limited by economic constraints. Ultimately, this initiative has the potential to expand the social housing market both now and in the future.

HACT Social Value Bank

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HACT Social Value Bank

Policies and regulations Governance Data and monitoring Evaluation and impact
Financing

Main objectives of the project

HACT, a UK charity, partners with housing sector organizations to enhance community benefits through innovative products and services. Central to their approach is the "Social Value Bank," aiding social housing providers in assessing their social return. The Teviot Estate redevelopment exemplifies this approach, with contractors committing to specific outcomes aligned with resident priorities. This groundbreaking methodology integrates social value throughout the regeneration process, ensuring meaningful impact.

Date

  • 2020: Implementation

Stakeholders

  • HACT

Location

Continent: Europe
Country/Region: United Kingdom

Description

HACT, a charity organization based in the UK, collaborates with various entities in the housing sector to drive benefits for residents and communities by offering insight-driven products and services that promote innovation and foster collaboration. One of its notable features is the "Social Value Bank," which aids social housing providers in calculating their social return. This bank comprises 88 outcomes, each with a defined financial metric incorporating wellbeing, health, and potential savings to the state. This lab can show any particular stakeholder the evolution on the social return of a specific project.

The outcomes are developed using a consistent methodology, drawing from over eight years of research and national data surveys. They are based on person-centered principles, utilizing data on self-reported wellbeing and life circumstances to measure actual experiences. The process involves setting up projects, selecting outcomes, establishing targets and budgets, and then using the Social Value Bank calculator to model, monitor, and measure project impacts. Subsequently, meaningful reports can be generated to showcase the achieved impact.

This methodology was applied in the Teviot Estate redevelopment project. After extensive consultation with residents, four priority themes emerged: Community, Homes, Streets, and Parks. The aim was to generate £278 million in social return value. Contractors were required to commit to delivering specific outcomes during the tendering process, with commitments varying based on bid amounts. All partners involved in the project were expected to support social value outcomes from the outset, and contractors worked closely with the Teviot Social Value Manager to develop delivery plans and provide progress reports.

To enhance value for the local community, input from local stakeholders was sought to better understand community needs and services. Additionally, the Community Chest Fund provided grant funding to local groups and businesses contributing to the program's outcomes. This approach represents a groundbreaking use of social value in regeneration schemes, characterized by both the scale of the commitment and the comprehensive integration of social value throughout the regeneration plans, from contractors' commitments to the assurance process.

One Euro Homes, Italy

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One Euro Homes, Italy

Mismatches Vacant housing
Policies and regulations Local policies Governance
Financing Supply subsidies
Promotion and production Transformation and adaptation

Main objectives of the project

The "One Euro" homes initiative in Italy has emerged as a notable strategy to address vacant housing in areas affected by population decline. Municipalities offer these homes for a nominal fee, typically owned by the municipality itself, with winning households required to fulfill renovation obligations within a specified timeframe. This policy aims to revitalize communities, stimulate tourism, and halt depopulation by repurposing abandoned properties. Additionally, some municipalities have adapted the scheme to cater to the needs of vulnerable groups, such as migrants and refugees, emphasizing the policy's flexibility in addressing diverse community needs.

Date

  • 2013: Implementation

Stakeholders

Location

Continent: Europe
Country/Region: Italy

Description

In recent years, one of the most renowned strategies to address vacant housing in Europe has been the "One Euro" homes (‘Case a 1 euro’) initiative in Italy. Several municipalities in areas affected by population decline and abandoned housing implemented this scheme, offering these homes for sale at the nominal fee of one euro. Typically owned by the municipalities themselves, these homes were donated by previous owners to evade property tax liabilities. Under this scheme, winning households must fulfill specific obligations. These include presenting a renovation project within a designated timeframe post-purchase, covering notary fees for registration and transfer, and adhering to a maximum time limit for commencing renovation work after obtaining permits.

This basic scheme has had different strategies depending on the town. Some have used it to renovate its downtown in rural areas and others to invest on the migrant population. The key feature is that is a strategy to ensure renovation of vacant housing units that should be for the most vulnerable groups.

For instance, in Sambuca di Sicilia, municipality-owned buildings were sold via public auction with a €5,000 deposit to ensure renovation and a commitment to complete the work within three years. The aim was to stimulate tourism and entrepreneurship, halting the depopulation process in Italy's interior areas.

Similar schemes were conducted in 2013 and 2019, with obligations akin to those in Sambuca di Sicilia. In 2019, Gangi included the intention for some homes to become tourist accommodation, aiming to generate jobs and households in the town. The guarantee period was extended to five years due to issues with the previous three-year deadline. Interestingly, the initiative influenced the sale of other vacant homes not part of the scheme, as visitors initially drawn by the one euro homes decided to invest in the area. These homes remained affordable, priced between €5,000-€20,000, reflecting the distressed local housing market.

Both towns experienced oversubscription, allowing authorities to select serious buyers with concrete renovation plans, ultimately benefiting the towns by reducing the stock of abandoned residences.

A similar initiative aimed to revitalize declining towns while accommodating arriving migrants and refugees, exemplified by Riace in Calabria. Initially welcoming 200 Kurds in 1988 to vacant houses due to emigration, Riace saw gradual economic recovery and house renovations, with "solidarity tourism" emerging. However, a change in political direction led to a cessation of funding, resulting in families leaving the town, highlighting the need for ongoing management and public support for such repopulation programs, particularly those reliant on training and job creation initiatives.

Haiti Home Ownership And Mortgage Expansion (Home) Program

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Haiti Home Ownership And Mortgage Expansion (Home) Program

Mismatches Financing Vulnerable groups
Policies and regulations National policies Global frameworks Public-private initiatives
Financing Financial actors Discriminaciones Financieras Mortgage systems Supply subsidies Demand subsidies Progressive financing

Main objectives of the project

In contrast to a straightforward housing subsidy, a rewards system necessitates meeting predefined quality, efficiency, and accountability criteria before funding is allocated, both on the supply and demand sides. Linking financial incentives to particular outcomes ensures that capacity building aligns with a shift in behaviors and operational methods. This is the model HOME has implemented in Haiti. In a extreme situation of housing crisis, this system has been applied to either supply and demand sites of the market. The goal: to provide affordable houses to a middle and low class.

Date

  • 2015: Implementation

Stakeholders

  • USAID
  • Haitian government
  • Habitat for Humanity International (HFHI)
  • Affordable Housing Institute (AHI) of Haiti
  • IDB Invest

Location

Continent: North America
Country/Region: Haiti

Description

Haiti faces a significant housing deficit, estimated at 500,000 units, which accounts for nearly 25% of the nation's total housing stock for a population of 10 million. This disparity underscores the inaccessibility of formal housing for the majority of Haitians, especially considering the average house price in Port-au-Prince is USD 250,000, while the average annual wage remains below USD 800. Moreover, access to home financing is severely limited, with only about 400 mortgages available countrywide. The formal real estate market in Haiti has predominantly catered to high-income housing, leaving the middle class underserved, as developers and financial institutions perceive them as high-risk.

In response to this pressing need, the US Agency for International Development-funded HOME program has been initiated as a three-year endeavor aimed at capacity building within Haiti's private sector. Its primary objective is to facilitate the financing and construction of affordable housing and infrastructure. HOME operates on both the supply and demand sides of the housing economic value chain, collaborating with Haitian companies to incentivize affordable housing projects.

On the supply side, HOME partners with real estate developers and landowners to support affordable and market-driven housing initiatives. By employing pay-for-performance mechanisms, HOME encourages developers to target low-income households, minimize risks, expedite construction, and lower home prices. Additionally, to ensure adherence to high environmental standards, HOME has partnered with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) to enable developers to obtain EDGE certification. These partnerships offer incentives to offset the additional investment required for ecological building standards, thus preventing price escalation for buyers.

Concurrently, on the demand side, HOME collaborates with financial institutions to address barriers to housing access in Haiti. The program advocates for larger banks to expand their mortgage portfolios and extend services to lower income segments. It also supports smaller institutions through technical assistance to enhance credit underwriting procedures, sales force training, and monitoring, thereby facilitating portfolio growth. Financial institutions are incentivized through pay-for-performance structures to expand their portfolios while maintaining low portfolio at risk (PAR) levels and increasing participation of households headed by women.

Haiti HOME has begun to invigorate the real estate market and empower local stakeholders to continue building and financing affordable homes beyond the program's duration. The program has already trained three local developers to target the lower-middle class, with three construction sites underway and two already receiving preliminary EDGE Green Building certification. Real estate developers have mobilized over USD 10 million of their own capital, a significant investment for the Haitian sector. HOME persists in collaborating with these developers to design larger projects to meet the needs of the Haitian population.

In terms of the demand side, HOME works with banks and credit cooperatives to enhance access to home financing, particularly for informal homes, having already mobilized over USD 6 million in mortgages and other home loans, benefiting more than 700 families.

Central to HOME's success is its program model, which focuses on incentivizing existing actors through a pay-for-performance approach on both the supply and demand sides of the housing market. Rather than imposing predetermined solutions or relying on traditional direct financing models, HOME rewards specific outcomes for financial institutions and developers through its HOME Facility fund. This approach encourages contractors to innovate in risk mitigation, organizational efficiency, and human resource development to foster affordable housing solutions in Haiti.

The Empty Homes Initiative, Ireland

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The Empty Homes Initiative, Ireland

Mismatches Vacant housing
Policies and regulations National policies Local policies
Financing Financial actors Public funding Supply subsidies Demand subsidies
Promotion and production Participatory processes

Main objectives of the project

Amid Ireland's housing crisis, Peter McVerry Trust's Empty Homes Initiative stands as a beacon of hope. By repurposing vacant properties for social housing, they address homelessness and housing shortages. Backed by advocacy efforts and financial support from the charity and government, initiatives like Repair and Leasing and Buy and Renew make significant strides in revitalizing communities. Their impact resonates through policy changes and increased public engagement, cementing their role as a key stakeholder in Ireland's social housing policy landscape.

Date

  • 2015: Implementation

Stakeholders

  • Peter McVerry Trust

Location

City: Dublin
Country/Region: Dublin, Ireland

Description

Ireland grapples with a housing crisis fueled by soaring demand and stagnant construction rates, despite a vast number of vacant properties scattered across urban and rural areas. The situation has led to over 10,000 people facing homelessness while over 182,000 residential units remain unoccupied. In response, Peter McVerry Trust, a prominent non-profit housing association, initiated the Empty Homes Initiative in 2015 to tackle this paradoxical predicament.

The initiative, spanning 14 counties and conducted in collaboration with local authorities, aims to repurpose vacant properties for social housing, particularly targeting areas with acute housing shortages. Through a blend of advocacy and action, Peter McVerry Trust engages in public outreach, media campaigns, and policy lobbying to raise awareness and prompt solutions. Financially supported by the charity and the Department of Housing, Planning, and Local Government, the initiative utilizes schemes like the Repair and Leasing Scheme (an interest-free loan of up to €40,000 to bring the vacant property back into use for social housing) and the Buy and Renew Scheme (funding to purchase the empty property and bring it back into use) to revitalize empty properties for social housing purposes. In their website, one can find all the projects they have done.

The advocacy efforts of Peter McVerry Trust have yielded notable policy changes, including the inclusion of an Empty Homes Pillar in Ireland’s Housing and Homeless Strategy, the implementation of vacant homes reuse strategies, and the appointment of dedicated officers in local authorities. Additionally, the initiative has spurred discussions on measures like an empty homes tax and increased utilization of Compulsory Purchase Orders. Public awareness and engagement have also surged, reflecting a concerted effort to address Ireland's housing crisis at multiple levels.

The Peter McVerry Trust serves as a prime illustration of a stakeholder deeply involved in shaping social housing policy. Not only does it actively advocate for change, but it also takes tangible steps to address housing issues on a national scale.

The Whole Housing Approach, UK

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The Whole Housing Approach, UK

Mismatches Cultural suitability Vulnerable groups Gender
Policies and regulations National policies Local policies

Main objectives of the project

The Whole Housing Approach (WHA) is a comprehensive strategy designed to address the housing and safety requirements of individuals affected by domestic abuse within a local community. It integrates various housing tenure types and support initiatives essential for aiding victims/survivors in maintaining or obtaining secure housing. The overarching aim of WHA is to enhance the accessibility of safe and stable housing across all housing tenure categories, including social, private rented, and private ownership. It encompasses facilitating transitions from refuge services and temporary accommodations to more permanent housing solutions. Furthermore, WHA strives to provide a diverse array of housing options and tailored initiatives for individuals impacted by domestic abuse, empowering them with the choice to either relocate or remain in their current living arrangements.

Date

  • 2018: Implementation

Stakeholders

  • Domestic Abuse Housing Alliance (DAHA)
  • Standing Together Against Domestic Violence (STADV)

Location

Continent: Europe
Country/Region: London, United Kingdom

Description

In the UK, the Femicide Census, a collaboration between Karen Ingala Smith and Women’s Aid, has revealed that 75% of women killed by current or former partners in 2016 were murdered in their own homes. Victims of domestic abuse reside in various types of housing, and a significant number of them, along with their children, become homeless each year in efforts to seek safety. Consequently, there is a pressing need for affordable and secure housing solutions.

Standing Together Against Domestic Violence (STADV), a London-based domestic abuse service, has been instrumental in pioneering the Coordinated Community Response approach in the UK. Alongside housing associations Gentoo and Peabody, STADV co-founded the Domestic Abuse Housing Alliance (DAHA) in 2014, a nationwide initiative aimed at enhancing the housing sector's response to domestic abuse. Furthermore, STADV is a key partner in implementing the 'Whole Housing Approach' project, launched in 2018, which involves multiple agencies, domestic abuse services, housing providers, and local authorities across three pilot sites in England.

The objective of this program is to enhance housing options for families impacted by domestic abuse through a holistic housing approach. By recognizing that families have varying degrees of need, the program aims to eliminate the necessity for them to become homeless in order to escape abuse. Across ten local authority areas in England, the project collaborates with specialist domestic abuse services, housing providers, private landlords, and financial institutions. Victims receive tailored support to enhance safety in their homes, and if necessary, facilitate relocation without forfeiting their social tenancy. The program also allocates funds to enhance safety, stability, and prevent homelessness. Tailored training programs have been developed to enhance the skills and knowledge of housing providers and landlords in identifying domestic abuse and offering appropriate support.

A significant challenge encountered was the need to align the diverse stakeholders required to maximize impact across existing organizational and systemic barriers. Typically, homelessness, housing, and domestic abuse services operate independently, leading to fragmented responses. To address this, a partnership comprising over 25 organizations across three regions was established. This involved assembling a dedicated team capable of articulating how organizations can collaborate effectively to identify and prevent domestic abuse at an early stage.

The program is financially supported by the Ministry of Housing and the Local Government Domestic Abuse Fund 2018-2020, having been awarded £1.45 million over an 18-month period.

Neighborhood Upgrading Program (NUP), Trinidad and Tobago

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Neighborhood Upgrading Program (NUP), Trinidad and Tobago

Mismatches Financing Segregation
Policies and regulations National policies Governance Public-private initiatives
Financing Public funding Indirect opportunities Sustainable development financing
Promotion and production Favelas/Slums

Main objectives of the project

The Neighborhood Upgrading Program (NUP) in Trinidad and Tobago targets enhancing living standards and housing conditions for low and middle-income households residing in squatter settlements. Comprising three key components, the program emphasizes regularization and enhancement of squatter settlements, provision of housing grants, and strengthening institutional capacities within the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development. With criteria ensuring fair distribution and ongoing evaluation, the NUP, supported by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), emerges as a successful initiative addressing dire housing needs and promoting social and environmental considerations.

Date

  • 2017: Implementation

Stakeholders

  • Trinidad and Tobago’s Ministry of Housing and Urban Development
  • IDB

Location

Continent: South America
Country/Region: San Fernando

Description

Trinidad and Tobago faces a housing deficit exceeding 100,000 units, compounded by significant squatting on state land, affecting up to 19% of the population. In response, successive governments have initiated various programs aimed at formalizing informal settlements and providing occupants with secure tenure. To address the ongoing housing needs, two partnership programs with the private sector have been launched. These involve collaborations with medium and large contractors under the Housing Development Corporation (HDC), as well as the Infill Lots program, which engages small contractors to build on vacant lots within HDC-owned developments. One of the main programs, though, is the Neighborhood Upgrading Program (NUP).

The primary objective of the NUP is to enhance the living standards and housing conditions of low and middle-income households residing in squatter settlements. This is achieved through a multifaceted approach that includes infrastructure upgrades, provision of home improvement grants, and facilitation of incremental housing construction or purchase. Additionally, the program aims to foster the creation of equitable, healthy, and sustainable communities throughout Trinidad and Tobago.

The NUP comprises three key components. Firstly, it involves the regularization and enhancement of squatter settlements, focusing on infrastructure improvements and regularization of land tenure for occupants. This aspect is overseen by the Land Settlement Agency (LSA), which operates under the authority of the State Lands (Regularization of Tenure) Act of 1998 and is tasked with legalizing illegal occupation at 254 designated sites across the country. Secondly, the program offers housing grants administered by the PMCU, which provides financial assistance to eligible low-income individuals for various housing-related purposes such as home improvements, construction, or purchases. Lastly, the NUP includes efforts to strengthen sectoral and institutional capacities within the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development and its affiliated agencies. This involves activities such as acquiring necessary hardware and software, automating program reports, and engaging in regional and international forums to exchange best practices in housing and urban development.

To qualify for grants, applicants must meet specific criteria including income limits, citizenship, property ownership or permission, and no prior benefit from housing grants. The program offers financial assistance for home construction or purchase, with varying amounts based on income levels and regional property values. Beneficiaries are selected through a random process and undergo verification interviews to ensure accuracy.

Though formal evaluation is ongoing, the IDB deems the NUP successful, having reached numerous families in dire housing need, often living in poverty. The program emphasizes social and environmental considerations and has demonstrated reasonable unit costs compared to similar initiatives. Replication of the program across Trinidad and Tobago is viable given established procedures and capacity. The Land Settlement Agency oversees squatter settlement regularization, while the Ministry has developed internal capabilities to administer housing subsidies independently.

Financing remains a challenge for project expansion, but the IDB expresses continued willingness to support such initiatives, having already provided three consecutive loans for housing and related projects in the country.

Solidarités Nouvelles pour le Logement (SNL) strategies to provide affordable housing (France)

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Solidarités Nouvelles pour le Logement (SNL) strategies to provide affordable housing (France)

Mismatches Segregation Vulnerable groups
Policies and regulations National policies Local policies Regulation Global frameworks Governance Public-private initiatives Participatory processes
Financing Financial actors Cultural actors Public-private collaboration
Promotion and production Public-private partnerships Private promotion Progressive housing

Main objectives of the project

SNL's housing initiatives exhibit a diverse range of strategies, from prioritizing access to properties by transforming them into affordable housing in small towns, to securing long-term housing solutions in urban areas like Paris through partnerships with private investors and legal frameworks, and employing specific lease mechanisms for sustainable refurbishment efforts.

Date

  • 1988: Implementation

Stakeholders

  • SNL

Location

Continent: Europe
Country/Region: France

Description

The French government estimates a need for 500,000 new housing units to address housing demands adequately, yet only around 350,000 units are constructed annually. Despite municipalities being obligated to provide social housing, this obligation is not consistently met, resulting in a shortage of affordable homes. Additionally, some properties remain vacant due to owners being dissuaded from renting them out because of taxation concerns.

Solidarités Nouvelles pour le Logement (SNL) addresses these challenges by providing temporary housing to vulnerable households and supporting them until they can secure permanent accommodation. In 2018, SNL housed 2,894 individuals, including 1,285 children, many of whom were previously homeless or living in inadequate conditions. SNL operates through SNL-Prologues, a real estate social enterprise that acquires, renovates, and manages properties for housing vulnerable families. SNL-Prologues, as a social economy cooperative, has opened its capital to social savings funds and private investors and is exempt from certain taxes due to its social mission.

One of SNL's strategies involves collaborating with local authorities to acquire properties rented with low-comfort features, converting them into decent and affordable housing.
For instance, in a small town where affordable housing was scarce, SNL successfully lobbied the local government to grant them the right of first refusal for a property unlawfully rented by slumlords. By persuading the municipality to address the needs of the households affected, SNL gained priority access to acquire the property. This allowed SNL to transform it into decent and highly affordable housing for five families, preventing it from being acquired by another investor. In Paris, SNL utilizes legal frameworks to partner with private investors, securing housing for vulnerable households through innovative financial arrangements and subsidies. Under this arrangement, private investors grant SNL-Prologues the usufruct right, enabling SNL-Prologues to rent the property for a specified period. Through financing of €150,000, sourced from subsidies provided by local authorities and NGOs, SNL is poised to accommodate vulnerable households in six affordable dwellings for a duration of 20 years. Additionally, in Paris, SNL utilized a specific lease mechanism known as "bail à réhabilitation" (renovation lease) to temporarily assume ownership of a 110 m2 apartment in the city center. Through extensive refurbishment efforts, SNL reduced the property's energy consumption by 35% and subdivided it into two smaller apartments suitable for two formerly homeless families. The property owner benefits from tax incentives associated with renting under this status, and upon the lease's expiration in 18 years, they will regain possession of a refurbished property.

SNL's efforts result in significant social impact, with 97% of individuals transitioning to permanent housing after an average stay of three years in SNL-provided accommodation. The average annual cost per dwelling, including acquisition and renovation, is €3,660, with funding sourced from rent payments (32%), public subsidies (50%), and private philanthropy (16%). Notably, the cost of housing a family in a hotel room is significantly higher at €6,240 per year, underscoring the cost-effectiveness of SNL's approach.

Social Rental Agencies in Belgium

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Social Rental Agencies in Belgium

Mismatches Vulnerable groups Vacant housing
Policies and regulations National policies Local policies
Financing
Ownership and tenure Rental and temporary tenure

Main objectives of the project

Social rental intermediation, although initially seeming paradoxical, offers a solution to the pressing need for affordable housing by incentivizing private landlords to make their properties accessible to vulnerable populations. This approach, with deep roots in Belgium and gaining traction across Europe, establishes a link between private landlords and marginalized individuals, facilitated by public or nonprofit intermediaries. These intermediaries provide incentives to landlords, such as rent guarantees and maintenance support, while assuming financial risks. Despite being primarily funded by public resources, social rental agencies have become attractive investments due to tax benefits and steady income streams. In Belgium, successful implementation has led to significant growth in housing units managed by Social Rental Agencies, particularly in Brussels where government incentives drive investment.

Date

  • 1997: Implementation

Stakeholders

  • Social Rental Agencies

Location

Continent: Europe
Country/Region: Belgium, Brussels

Description

Initially, the notion of utilizing private rental housing for social purposes may appear paradoxical. After all, private housing is owned by individuals or entities expecting a return on their investment, rather than serving as a substitute for social landlords. However, in Belgium, a significant portion (70%) of private landlords are small-scale operators. Moreover, the private rental sector increasingly accommodates modest households, with over a quarter of European households dedicating more than 40% of their income to housing. This underscores the relevance and necessity of addressing social concerns within the private rental market as a matter of public policy. Even with political will to invest in and construct more social housing, several years would be necessary to realize such endeavors.

A solution to this challenge is social rental intermediation, a relatively novel approach in Europe but one with deep roots in Belgium. The concept involves incentivizing private property owners to make portions of their rental stock more affordable and accessible to vulnerable populations. Social rental intermediation establishes a connection between private landlords and individuals typically excluded from the housing market. This intermediary, often a public entity or nonprofit organization funded by public resources, offers incentives to landlords who agree to rent their properties at reasonable rates. In return, landlords benefit from guarantees related to rent payment and property maintenance. Conditions typically include granting the social rental agency discretion in selecting tenants and setting rents below market rates. The Social Rental Agency (SRA) assumes financial risks associated with unpaid rents and property upkeep. This may entail assistance with renovation management and other incentives, such as tax advantages. Beneficiary households can access social support services as needed, typically coordinated by the organization operating the SRA.

In Belgium, SRAs were established in the late 1970s and have since become institutionalized. For example, the SRA Logement pour Tous in Brussels originated as an initiative of a nonprofit organization to assist migrant families facing discrimination in finding affordable housing with the aid of social workers. These agencies have been supported by government sponsorship since housing legislation formalized their role in 1997.

SRAs are primarily funded through public sources, presenting a challenge. However, they have become an attractive investment for property owners, rental agencies, and government entities due to the shifting of financial risks and the assurance of steady income and tax benefits. In Brussels, significant investments, encouraged by fiscal incentives, are being made in constructing rental properties for intermediation purposes. This policy has proven successful in Belgium, with SRAs adding 6,500 units in the past four years alone.

In Brussels, 23 SRAs manage 5,500 housing units, with an annual growth rate of 10%. The success can be attributed to regional government incentives, including tax exemptions and reduced VAT rates on new dwellings. Major corporations are undertaking large-scale projects, often involving the construction of hundreds of units, presenting a significant opportunity for SRAs to rapidly expand their housing inventory. However, the incentives in Brussels typically require the availability of units to rental agencies for only 15 years.

Rental intermediation serves as a valuable short-term solution for rapidly increasing affordable housing stock. It taps into an essential segment of the housing system that may not otherwise be fully utilized and can enhance value through renovation, mobilization of private stock, and combating discrimination. However, it should be viewed as a temporary measure and not a substitute for social housing, which provides a long-term safeguard for affordable housing stock.