Wiener Wohnen’s Case Managament (Vienna)

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Wiener Wohnen’s Case Managament (Vienna)

Mismatches Vulnerable groups
Policies and regulations Local policies Governance Evictions

Main objectives of the project

Wiener Wohnen's goal is to offer affordable housing to low-income individuals, particularly vulnerable groups unable to secure private market housing. Yet, many social housing units suffer from non-payment or anti-social behavior. For this reason, Wiener Wohnen launched the Case Management service in 2017. This initiative employs social workers to assist tenants at risk of eviction due to financial or behavioral issues. Preventing evictions saves significant costs and reduces human suffering, with the program proving effective by contacting 85% of at-risk tenants and annulling 70% of potential evictions. This model not only supports tenants but also promotes social responsibility and sustainable practices, making it a replicable solution for other housing companies.

Date

  • 2017: Implementation

Stakeholders

  • Wiener Wohnen

Location

Continent: Europe
Country/Region: Austria, Vienna

Description

The goal of Wiener Wohnen, a public social housing company, is to offer affordable and adequate accommodation to low-income individuals. In municipal housing blocks, the proportion of people at risk of poverty, disadvantaged, or unemployed is generally much higher than in other housing forms. Wiener Wohnen pursues a “social allocation of accommodation” scheme for vulnerable individuals who cannot access affordable housing in the private market. Approximately 900 households are evicted from municipal housing each year due to non-payment of rent or anti-social behavior, affecting around 1,800 people annually. Analysis shows that many of those affected do not establish contact with Wiener Wohnen, either after receiving a court order or before eviction. Economically, each eviction costs the housing company at least €10,000 and causes immense human suffering. There are hidden costs for the local government related to caring for homeless people. Scientific findings indicate that eviction is particularly disastrous for children, with 350 minors affected each year. Losing their home, friends, and surroundings is a traumatic experience.

To address this, Wiener Wohnen launched their new Case Management service in March 2017. The aim is to prevent evictions through the intervention of social workers. This program organizes professional assistance for tenants in difficult circumstances, such as high rental arrears or signs of anti-social behavior due to mental health problems, substance abuse, dementia, or compulsive hoarding. This approach creates a "win-win situation" for all parties involved. Preventing evictions avoids human misery and the displacement of tenants, along with all associated negative effects. Additionally, it results in significant savings. For the City of Vienna, it also reduces costs since municipal housing is cheaper than providing accommodation in homeless shelters. Another objective is to increase public awareness of social responsibility and sustainability by creating a professional interface between housing companies and social organizations. Case Management helps maintain stable neighborhoods and reduces conflicts in municipal housing, occasionally leading to positive media coverage. Internally, the work of the Case Management team enriches corporate culture by bringing new skills and knowledge to the company, helping employees identify with the socially responsible company concept.

Wiener Wohnen is the only property management company in Vienna employing social workers to prevent evictions or assist people in difficult circumstances. Social workers have a significant and permanent role within the company, acting as an interface with all other relevant social stakeholders in Vienna. A unique qualitative catalogue of services was created for social workers to fill in for each case, allowing for an accurate description of specific services available for tenants and more professional case evaluations. Wiener Wohnen has developed its own software (database) for cases, compliant with GDPR. Due to its high quality, this database is already in demand by other municipal departments. Systematic data collection allows for the permanent optimization of internal procedures.

Case Management was successful in contacting 85% of tenants who had not reached out to Wiener Wohnen regarding an eviction notice. In about 70% of completed cases, the eviction was annulled because tenants had either paid their rent (33%) or entered into an installment agreement (36%). In about 26% of cases, tenants did not wish to cooperate with the social workers or could not be reached. Only 5% of completed cases resulted in evictions.

As a social municipal landlord, Wiener Wohnen benefits tenants by preventing evictions, human misery, and displacement while also saving unnecessary costs for the housing company and the City of Vienna. This service, which took 12 months to establish, is replicable in any socially responsible housing company.

Organisme de Foncier Solidaire de la Métropole Lilloise (OFSML)

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Organisme de Foncier Solidaire de la Métropole Lilloise (OFSML)

Mismatches Price Financing
Policies and regulations Local policies Regulation
Promotion and production Public promotion Cooperatives
Ownership and tenure Shared ownership Protection of social housing

Main objectives of the project

The Organisme de Foncier Solidaire (OFS) focuses on ensuring long-term housing affordability through an innovative lease model that separates land and property ownership. Established in Lille and approved by the State, the OFS acquires land and partners with developers to build affordable housing units. This model prevents land speculation, keeps housing costs low, and guarantees that homes remain affordable for future generations, thereby addressing housing needs for households with limited financial resources.

Date

  • 2017: Implementation

Stakeholders

  • OFSML

Location

Continent: Europe
Country/Region: France, Lille

Description

The City of Lille, with a population of 228,000, is the 10th largest city in France, comprising 138,000 housing units. Seventy percent of its residents are tenants, reflecting a tight housing market with a 25% turnover, a 5% real vacancy rate, and over 16,500 requests for social housing. Lille ranks as the 4th most expensive provincial city in the existing market (€3,130/m²) and the 3rd most expensive in the rental market (€13.9/m² in 2017). Despite this, Lille's median income is 17% lower than the national median. Housing prices in Lille tripled between 2000 and 2011. To address these challenges, the City of Lille set a goal of 10,000 new housing units from 2014 to 2020, with a focus on equal distribution of social and affordable housing. Various tools support this initiative, such as the Reserved Site for Housing (Emplacement Réservé pour le Logement – ERL), land action, and social diversity obligations (servitude de mixité sociale). Despite anti-speculation clauses, affordable housing is not permanently socially-oriented, as original buyers can sell back to the free market. Consequently, Lille has been exploring new models for securing permanently affordable homeownership.

The "Organisme de Foncier Solidaire" (OFS) is a non-profit organization, approved by the State on July 20, 2017, designed to tackle these housing issues. Lille's OFS, the first in France, operates on a metropolitan scale, acquiring and managing land to support the construction of housing for households struggling to find decent housing. This model neutralizes land costs over time, reducing housing costs and increasing affordability. The OFS grants a lease known as “Bail Réel Solidaire” (BRS), which only OFS can use. While the OFS does not directly build housing, developers do so under BRS conditions: resource thresholds, sale price limits, principal residence requirements, and appropriate housing size for household size. The BRS is valid for 19 to 99 years and can be renewed upon ownership changes.

The OFSML is the first OFS approved by the State, aiming to introduce a new ownership approach that treats land as a common good, ensuring permanent affordability and better use of public funds. The model also secures households with the BRS lease. Projects under the OFSML, like the Cosmopole project (developer: Finapar), follow the Community Land Trust (CLT) model, separating land ownership from building ownership. The process for the Cosmopole project includes several steps:

1. The City of Lille owns the land.
2. An agreement between the OFSML and the City of Lille is made to develop OFS/BRS housing.
3. The City of Lille issues a call for tenders and sells the land to the selected developer.
4. The developer sells the land to the OFSML for €1 (equivalent to 15 OFS housing units) and signs an initial BRS with the OFSML, paying a monthly fee of €1/m².
5. The developer constructs and sells OFS/BRS housing while adhering to criteria set by the OFSML. Buyers must be approved by the OFSML.
6. Approved buyers sign a VEFA-type reservation with the developer and a User BRS with the OFSML.
7. The household becomes the building owner and land tenant (paying a monthly fee of €1/m²).
8. If the owner sells the housing, the selling price is regulated, and the new buyer must meet the same conditions: resource thresholds, principal residence, and appropriate housing size. 9. The BRS is then renewed for another 99 years.

The first OFS housing project in Lille enabled middle-class households to access housing in city centers and neighborhoods typically inhabited by affluent residents. The OFSML successfully reached its target audience through press articles and the municipal paper explaining the OFSML model. Additionally, the OFSML launched a website to expand its reach further.

The housing offered by the OFSML is very affordable, priced at €2,110 per square meter (including VAT) without parking. These prices align with the local definition of social homeownership, aimed at people with modest resources. In the first project, half of the buyers transitioned from social rental housing. The project's prime location near various urban services enhances its attractiveness and keeps the land affordable over time, combating land speculation.

Despite these successes, the OFSML faces challenges such as uncertainty regarding bank mobilization. It is exploring different legal systems to better align with its model and activities while seeking metropolitan-level opportunities.

The OFS model has garnered significant interest in France. In November 2018, the City of Lille hosted a two-day event for French OFS organizations and established the French OFS network "Foncier Solidaire France," supported by the French government. This network aims to facilitate member exchanges, address challenges, gather proposals, and forward recommendations at the national level.

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.

Housing Europe Observatory and The State of the Housing in Europe

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Housing Europe Observatory and The State of the Housing in Europe

Policies and regulations Data and monitoring Evaluation and impact

Main objectives of the project

The Housing Europe Observatory, it serves as a key resource for data, statistics, and best practices in public, cooperative, and social housing across the continent. Their biennial "State of Housing in Europe" report provides comprehensive insights into housing conditions continent-wide, with each edition focusing on a specific theme.

Date

  • 1998: Implementation

Stakeholders

  • Housing Europe

Location

Continent: Europe
Country/Region: Belgium, Brussels

Description

Housing Europe, the European Federation of Public, Cooperative, and Social Housing, has been a pivotal network since its establishment in 1988, comprising 42 national and regional federations, along with 15 partnering organizations across 31 European countries. Collectively, they oversee approximately 25 million homes, representing about 11% of the continent's existing dwellings. Their collective vision entails ensuring access to decent and affordable housing for all, fostering socially, economically, and environmentally sustainable communities that empower individuals to realize their full potential.

The Housing Europe Observatory, initiated over 25 years ago, serves as the research arm of the Federation and serves as a primary source for data, statistics, and key insights into public, cooperative, and social housing throughout Europe. The Observatory produces specialized reports covering various aspects such as social housing for young people, addressing vacant housing, financing social housing projects, and accommodating aging populations within social housing complexes. These reports are enriched with exemplary practices drawn from Housing Europe's partners.

A cornerstone of their research efforts is the biennial "State of Housing in Europe" report, which provides a comprehensive overview of housing conditions across European countries. Each edition focuses on a specific theme; for instance, the 2023 report delved into the role of public, cooperative, and social housing in facilitating a fair energy transition and mitigating the impacts of the current cost of living crisis on residents and communities.

Together, the Housing Europe Observatory and the "State of Housing in Europe" report serve as vital sources of information, offering unparalleled insights into the functioning and performance of the social housing sector across Europe.

Aalborg East - from an isolated vulnerable area to an inclusive community

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Aalborg East - from an isolated vulnerable area to an inclusive community

Policies and regulations Local policies Land Building capacity Public-private initiatives Participatory processes
Urban Design Urban fabrics Liveability Inclusion Public-private initiative Participatory processes
Ownership and tenure Protection of social housing Public-private partnerships

Main objectives of the project

An isolated an deprived residential area in Denmark's fourth-largest city had, since its construction in the 1960s and 70s, experienced increasing decline and negative spiral. Now, Aalborg East is a mixed community, with a vivid atmosphere and centered on the well-being of its citizens. It has become a story of success in social housing policies in Europe.

Date

  • 2011: Construction
  • 2023: Ganador

Stakeholders

  • Promotor: Aalborg Municipality
  • Constructor: Himmerland Boligforening

Location

Continent: Europe
Country/Region: Denmark

Description

Aalborg East, originally established as a satellite city in the 1970s, faced significant challenges over the past years, characterized by deteriorating old buildings, primarily comprised of social housing, and a declining economy leading to escalating issues of unemployment and crime. Recognizing the urgent need for intervention, a comprehensive urban transformation initiative was launched, encompassing the renovation of over 2,000 affordable homes. This ambitious endeavor was guided by two fundamental principles: the promotion of a diverse community and the active engagement of local residents throughout the process. Thus, homes were renovated, new shops were added, private homes were built and several social initiatives were adopted. Residents sat at the table as urban planners, so no homes have been demolished, and no residents have been displaced.
The whole process has been vastly affected by tenant democracy. There were building committees consisting of tenants, and every major decision was made at attendant meetings. Strong and strategic partnerships with both the public and private sector were also central because a housing association cannot do it all by themselves. For example, construction fields have been sold to private investors to densify some areas with freestanding house blocks and to diversify the economy.
In conclusion, the renovations were completed by using a variety of building types, appealing to a wider residential composition. Moreover, new infraestructure was put in place to foster the new mixed community. For instance, a new health house was built where training courses are in place, which makes the area more visible for people who would not visit Aalborg East daily. It is fair to say that the Danish social housing provider Himmerland Boligforening went further than usual, leading the way in Europe on how to integrate social housing tenants in the strategic city development as well as making them active city planners. The results are astonishing. Now Aalborg East is an area of well-being with safe areas, no crime, and great economic growth.
In 2023, the project won the NEB awards in “Prioritising the places and people that need it the most”.

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.

RENOLUTION and IRISbox online one-stop-shop solutions to vacant buildings, Brussels-Capital Region

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RENOLUTION and IRISbox online one-stop-shop solutions to vacant buildings, Brussels-Capital Region

Mismatches Functional adequacy Vacant housing
Policies and regulations Local policies Governance

Main objectives of the project

In Brussels, leaving a residential property vacant for over 12 months is illegal, with hefty fines enforced by dedicated units. To encourage property utilization, measures like involving Social Rental Agencies and providing renovation grants have been introduced. However, accessing support was challenging due to numerous programs. To simplify, all schemes were consolidated under RENOLUTION, linked to IRISbox, easing identification and application processes. These efforts reduce complexity and administrative burdens, motivating owners to refurbish and occupy their vacant properties.

Date

Stakeholders

  • Brussels-Capital Region

Location

Continent: Europe
Country/Region: Belgium, Brussels

Description

In the Brussels-Capital Region of Belgium, leaving a residential property vacant for over 12 months is against the law and can lead to significant fines. Dedicated units within the Region focus on identifying and prosecuting owners of such properties. However, this process can be time-consuming and costly. To address this, alternative measures have been introduced to encourage property owners to utilize their vacant properties. One option is to entrust the management of the property to a Social Rental Agency (SRA), providing housing for low-income households. Another approach is to offer special home renovation grants, especially beneficial for properties that don't meet decent standards.

Over time, the number of available grants and public supports for renovation and maintenance has increased, resulting in difficulty for property owners, including public housing providers, in identifying and accessing assistance opportunities. To streamline this process, two significant actions were taken. Firstly, all available schemes were consolidated under one umbrella called RENOLUTION. This centralized platform offers a clear, searchable catalog of support schemes along with administrative support services. Secondly, RENOLUTION was linked to IRISbox, the Brussels Region's online platform for public assistance programs. Through IRISbox, users can easily identify available schemes and swiftly submit applications for support.

These initiatives have significantly reduced the complexity and administrative burden associated with accessing public supports for renovation and building improvement activities. For owners of vacant properties, this streamlined approach could make a substantial difference in facilitating the necessary improvements to bring their properties back into use.

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.

Right of Public Administration for vacant dwellings, Brussels-Capital Region

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Right of Public Administration for vacant dwellings, Brussels-Capital Region

Mismatches Vulnerable groups Vacant housing
Policies and regulations Local policies Regulation Global frameworks
Ownership and tenure

Main objectives of the project

Since 2003, Brussels have the "Right of Public Administration". This allows municipal authorities to manage and renovate vacant private properties, renting them out at reduced rates. Reforms in 2022 aimed to enhance this system, requiring owners to reimburse costs and ensure affordable rent for low-income households.

Date

  • 2003: Implementation
  • 2022: Implementation

Stakeholders

  • Brussels-Capital Region

Location

Continent: Europe
Country/Region: Belgium, Brussels

Description

Brussels is taking the problem of vacant housing seriously. In Brussels, leaving a residential property vacant for over 12 months is illegal, with hefty fines enforced by dedicated units. They also do have incentives for refurbishment by the private, such as RENOLUTION. Yet, since 2003, legislation in the Brussels-Capital Region of Belgium has granted the "Right of Public Administration" (Le droit de gestion publique) for vacant dwellings. This grants municipal authorities the authority to temporarily assume management of unoccupied or dilapidated housing, facilitating renovation if necessary, and subsequently renting it out at a reduced below-market rate for a nine-year period. All associated costs are covered through the rent collected. This right can be exercised voluntarily with the property owner's agreement or forcibly if the owner fails to take steps to restore the property.

In 2022, the Regional Parliament undertook reforms to the Right of Public Administration system. The aim was to rejuvenate the program, clarify certain aspects, and bolster others. Changes include stipulations that the property owner can reclaim the property from the municipality or the current managing entity only after fully reimbursing all incurred costs associated with bringing the property back into use and its subsequent management. Moreover, owners must commit to charging rent in line with the sub-market rates set by the municipality and make the property available exclusively to eligible low-income households. Regardless of the managing entity, the below-market rent is fixed for nine years following the initiation of the Right of Public Administration.

Nevertheless, the utilization of the Right has been infrequent by public authorities in the Region, at least until recently. This is partly due to the lengthy requisition process, as owners typically rehabilitate the property before reaching the stage where municipal control would be enacted. Thus, it could be inferred that the perceived credible threat of action is adequate in achieving the desired outcome of reducing the quantity of vacant homes.