HousingLab, Italy

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HousingLab, Italy

Policies and regulations Governance Data and monitoring Evaluation and impact Participatory processes
Promotion and production Self-management Self-promotion Cooperatives
Ownership and tenure Shared ownership

Main objectives of the project

HousingLab is a research, experimentation and development laboratory for collaborative and sustainable housing. It was born as a project of the Design and Innovation for Sustainability Unit of the Politecnico di Milano but it wants to be a laboratory that operates in and for society. It is a research lab but also a place that offers consulting services and coaching for public administrations, private builders and mostly for inhabitants and cooperatives. As an association, its objective is to foster good practices in the field of participatory and cooperative housing.

Date

  • 2014: Implementation

Stakeholders

  • HousingLab

Location

Country/Region: Italy

Description

HousingLab is an association dedicated to promoting best practices, sharing expertise, and fostering participatory experimentation in the field of social and collaborative housing. HousingLab focuses on various areas, including new housing models for diverse family structures, collaborative services for living, urban communities, public and private spaces, regeneration of existing housing contexts, and the social, environmental, and economic sustainability of both housing and relationships.

To achieve these goals, the Association plans to undertake the following non-profit activities:

a) Promote and organize cultural activities such as conferences, fairs, exhibitions, seminars, competitions, events, and visits related to social and collaborative housing.

b) Promote, organize, and provide training activities, including theoretical and practical courses, and workshops, even for non-members, in schools of all levels and universities.

c) Create a network of national and international stakeholders to share and exchange ideas and experiences on relevant topics. Through constructive dialogue, they aim to develop and disseminate best practices.

d) Publish and distribute articles, books, publications, and videos in both digital and print formats on the topic of social and collaborative housing.

One of its most important tools is the Map of Co-housings in Italy.This map geolocates various cohousing projects across the country, each accompanied by an informational sheet. The goal of the map is to provide an overview of the spread of cohousing in Italy. It aims to introduce this innovative way of living to newcomers and to connect existing projects. Moreover, they have the co-housing lab, where they help individuals who are willing to start their cohousing cooperative. Thanks to it, they have developed a toolkit to help future partners to face their decisions.

123 rue Royale, Brussels

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123 rue Royale, Brussels

Mismatches Vulnerable groups Vacant housing
Policies and regulations Local policies Evictions
Ownership and tenure Rental and temporary tenure Protection of social housing

Main objectives of the project

Authorities often view squatters as a significant issue in the housing crisis. Many people become squatters out of necessity, but in doing so, they occupy units that could otherwise house other families in need. The case of 123 Rue Royale serves as a notable example of addressing this problem. Through a well-organized movement behind the occupation, residents were able to negotiate terms and reach a temporary agreement. This allowed them to stay in the building temporarily and transform it into a democratic hub of culture and activities. Eventually, this "legal" occupation came to an end, and the building was returned to its public owner. By following this model, the squatters prevented the sale of public land, and none of the residents were evicted.

Date

  • 2007: Implementation

Stakeholders

  • Wallonia Region
  • Promotor: Woningen 123 Logements

Location

Continent: Europe
Country/Region: Belgium, Brussels

Description

Social housing constitutes about 8% of the total housing in Brussels. With 43.4% of the population being homeowners, more than half of the population relies on the private rental market. Less than half of social housing applicants are successful, and for the 41,000 families on the waiting list, the wait can exceed 10 years.

The first illegal occupation of empty buildings arose because public authorities had tools to make vacant buildings available to homeless people or to renovate and rent them out on a social basis. However, these tools were not being utilized. What began as an act of civil disobedience to highlight housing exclusion issues has evolved into a recognized movement affirming the social interest in occupying vacant spaces for housing. This is exemplified by the case of Woningen123Logements, or 123 Rue Royale, in Brussels.

In May 2007, a group of people took over the building at 123 Rue Royale. A temporary occupation agreement was quickly concluded with the Walloon Region, the owner of the premises. Among the new occupants were students, street dwellers, artists, undocumented people, and others seeking an alternative to traditional housing. They shared common experiences of difficulty in finding accommodation due to the housing crisis or personal reasons and a desire to live in collective and supportive housing. The non-profit organization is currently seeking a new location as the convention is ending. Additionally, 123 Logements aims to find alternative and concrete solutions to the housing crisis, particularly through the reallocation of empty buildings into self-managed housing.

The case became a pilot project with the signing of a temporary occupancy agreement between 123 Rue Royale and the Walloon Region as the landlord. The agreement allowed the occupants secure tenure for up to six months after the owner obtained planning permission to repurpose the building sustainably.

During the temporary agreement, 123 Rue Royale became an association with the objective of creating supportive and self-managed housing. The association does not intend to impede owners' investments but seeks a simple solution to legally occupy buildings awaiting allocation or investment, offering reliable guarantees for both owners and residents. The association is composed of 90% residents, 5% former residents, and 5% outsiders, with all decisions made in residents' meetings. In 2018, the agreement ended, and the occupants left the building. During the legal occupation, the building became a hub of cultural and economic activities in the neighborhood.

While temporary occupancy agreements are not seen as the ultimate solution to the housing crisis, they provide a roof, security, and comfort at a very low cost, serving as a temporary solution that allows households to save money for debts or sustainable rehousing. This case is notable because it involved community action, emphasizing the importance of seeing opportunities in the housing crisis rather than merely focusing on squatting as a problem.

Star Homes, Tanzania

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Star Homes, Tanzania

Mismatches Services Cultural suitability Vulnerable groups Climate change Pandemics
Urban Design Liveability
Promotion and production Private promotion Participatory processes Innovation

Main objectives of the project

Addressing the severe housing and health challenges in rural Tanzania, the Star Homes Project delivers 110 innovative, low-cost homes designed to reduce disease and improve living conditions. The project's emphasis on sustainability is evident through its use of energy-efficient materials and designs, significantly lowering embodied carbon and construction costs. By sourcing all materials and labor locally, the project strengthens community ties and builds local capacity. This interdisciplinary effort not only enhances the health and well-being of families but also serves as a model for sustainable development in similar regions.

Date

  • 2024: Implementation

Stakeholders

  • Architect: ingvartsen
  • Ifakara Health Institute
  • Mahidol Oxford Research Unit
  • University of the Philippines – Manila
  • London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
  • Durham University
  • CSK

Location

Continent: Africa
Country/Region: Mtwara, United Republic of Tanzania

Description

The Star Homes Project has been under development for over a decade, aiming to create novel, low-cost, comfortable, and insect-proof housing to improve health in rural areas of Sub-Saharan Africa. This initiative involves constructing 110 identical, single-family "Star Homes" across 60 different villages in Mtwara, one of Tanzania's most underdeveloped regions with high incidences of malaria, respiratory tract infections, and diarrhea. These houses are part of a trial designed to provide robust data on whether improved housing can enhance family health.

Both upgraded and traditional house styles in Sub-Saharan Africa seem to predispose residents to vector-borne, enteric, and respiratory diseases. Unlike most rural Tanzanian housing, the prototype house is two stories high, reducing the area of the foundation and roof, which are typically the most expensive and material-intensive components. This design approach optimizes resource use, reducing embodied energy and construction costs. The prefabricated light gauge steel (LGS) frame can be manufactured and erected in under three days; walls are solid but hollow, with two thin layers of cement render on wire mesh. The house features passive cooling, solar lights, USB chargers, and rainwater collection, resulting in a home that uses 70% less concrete than typical concrete block designs and has 37% less embodied carbon.

The prototype windows are screened with strong netting instead of glass, keeping indoor temperatures approximately 2.5 degrees lower than comparable local houses. Thick walls absorb heat during the day and radiate it at night, deterring the use of bed nets and increasing malaria risk. Ground-level bedrooms have higher mosquito densities, raising the risk of vector-borne infections. Cooking on open fires within poorly ventilated spaces can lead to respiratory health issues, especially for women and children. Compacted earth surfaces are hard to clean, and combined with open pit latrines, inadequate water supply, and minimal sanitation, they leave families vulnerable to diarrhea and other enteric infections.

These health issues are most severe in rural regions like Mtwara, where access to public health services is limited. After completing the construction of all 110 Star Homes in June 2021, families moved in and began participating in a trial to monitor children under 13 years old for episodes of malaria, acute respiratory infections, and diarrhea over three years. A team of architects, entomologists, and social scientists will evaluate the house design's performance and acceptability using in-depth interviews, focus group discussions, house walk-throughs, and surveys. Light traps will be used to collect mosquitoes and flies in both the Star Homes and control homes to measure the number of malaria-carrying mosquitoes entering the houses.

The Star Homes project also aims to build capacity and sustainable communities in some of the world's poorest areas by providing affordable housing and teaching new construction skills. Each house and latrine costs between $6000 and $8000 to build and can be constructed in under four weeks. Occupants receive electricity and water throughout the house's 30-year predicted lifespan, with no operational or maintenance costs. This saves time and resources, which can be used to strengthen rural communities and lift families out of poverty. All components and labor are sourced from within Tanzania, enhancing local construction capacity.

Designed by an interdisciplinary team of architects, public health specialists, and entomologists, the Star Home incorporates various design interventions to improve family health. A detailed selection process was undertaken to choose the recipients and locations for the Star Homes. In 2019, before construction began, a survey of rural villages in Mtwara was conducted. Households wanting to participate and meeting the study inclusion criteria (such as having children under 13 years old) could enter a lottery to win a Star Home built on their land. The lottery was conducted openly and transparently to select the recipients. The study is expected to be completed by 2024.

Affordable and Supportive Housing for the Elderly, Liverpool

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Affordable and Supportive Housing for the Elderly, Liverpool

Mismatches Vulnerable groups Demographic/Urban growth
Policies and regulations Local policies Governance Public-private initiatives

Main objectives of the project

Liverpool's innovative housing strategy for the elderly underscores the vital importance of tailored housing solutions in promoting independence and well-being. By transitioning from traditional institutional care to community-oriented extra care housing, the city helps older adults maintain their social networks and quality of life. ACCESS Liverpool exemplifies the strategy's effectiveness, providing a streamlined, one-stop service for housing and care needs. This approach ensures that housing is not only affordable but also suitable for the residents, addressing their specific necessities and ensuring they live in secure, supportive environments that enhance their overall well-being.

Date

  • 2000: Implementation

Stakeholders

  • City of Liverpool
  • Liverpool Housing Action Trust
  • ACCESS Liverpool

Location

Continent: Europe
City: Liverpool
Country/Region: Liverpool, United Kingdom

Description

Affordable housing is not a one-fits-all solution. Each person might have their own needs and vulnerabilities that must be taken into an account if we want to build housing for all. One example of this specific groups is elderly people. Housing for older people requires a unique approach that addresses their specific needs, promotes independence, and enhances quality of life. Unlike the general population, older individuals often require accommodation that is adapted to their physical and health needs, provides access to care and support services, and allows them to remain active and engaged in their communities. Recognizing these needs, the City of Liverpool has implemented a strategic approach to housing for older people, focusing on moving away from institutional models towards more empowering and community-based solutions.

Several years ago, the City of Liverpool embarked on a comprehensive strategy to enhance accommodation options for its older residents. This initiative was rooted in the efforts of the Liverpool Housing Action Trust and various Registered Social Landlords (RSLs). In collaboration with the local authority, a report was commissioned from consultants in 2001, and the recommendations from this report were adopted by Liverpool’s strategic housing partnership. This strategy has since driven the redesign of housing, care, and support services across the city, aiming to empower older individuals to improve their quality of life and remain in their preferred homes and communities. A key element of this strategy is the development of extra care housing, providing a positive alternative to traditional residential care facilities, which are not cheap, without having to live without the needed care. Additionally, the city has established active ageing services to support this demographic further. By doing so, older people can still be living on their own and maintain their own community and social network. Making housing affordable also means making housing accessible for people, considering their specific necessities. In fact, the absence of services for this population tend to leave them in housing insecurity or living in sub-optimal conditions.

Another pivotal component of Liverpool's strategy is ACCESS Liverpool, a common allocation and advice service that began in 2000. ACCESS Liverpool manages a unified assessment and waiting list system for housing providers across the city, benefiting older and disabled individuals who need specialized accommodation. The service operates on behalf of a partnership of 24 housing providers, including the city council, and collaborates with key stakeholders such as Age Concern Liverpool and the Primary Care Trust (PCT).

ACCESS Liverpool features a small, dedicated team that oversees a common waiting list for sheltered accommodation, extra care housing, and accessible homes. This service has been well-received, as evidenced by satisfaction surveys, due to its efficiency in preventing older and disabled individuals from needing to approach multiple landlords. The strengths of ACCESS Liverpool include conducting home visits, encouraging discussions about individual needs and choices, and applying a single assessment methodology. In the 2006/07 period, ACCESS Liverpool successfully rehoused 366 people, including a significant portion who were homeless or facing serious issues. Currently, the waiting list includes 600 individuals seeking sheltered housing and another 600 looking for specially adapted dwellings. Thus, ACCESS works as a one-stop-shop for elderly and disable people that has become a great governance structure among social services and housing services providers.

Liverpool's approach demonstrates a comprehensive and collaborative effort to enhance housing options for older people, ensuring they receive the support and accommodations necessary to live independently and comfortably within their communities.

Communauté Milton Parc, Montreal

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Communauté Milton Parc, Montreal

Mismatches
Policies and regulations Local policies Governance Evictions Participatory processes
Promotion and production Self-management Self-promotion Cooperatives
Ownership and tenure Shared ownership Land ownership

Main objectives of the project

In the 1970s, residents of Milton-Parc rallied against the proposed demolition of their neighborhood, ultimately transforming it into the most extensive cooperative housing endeavor in North America. Presently, the Communauté Milton-Parc / Milton Parc Community (CMP) accommodates over 1500 individuals, structured into a federation comprising 15 housing cooperatives, 6 nonprofit housing initiatives, and a community-operated entity overseeing commercial properties. Notably, the project adopts a distinctive legal framework akin to a community land trust, safeguarding six downtown Montréal blocks from potential speculation and gentrification. Rigorous standards for resident selection prioritize households with limited incomes. Serving as a significant model for communal land ownership, Milton Parc has inspired similar radical housing initiatives worldwide, including the establishment of the Champlain Housing Trust in Vermont, now recognized as the largest community land trust in the United States.

Date

  • 1979: Implementation

Stakeholders

  • Promotor: Communauté Milton Parc

Location

Continent: North America
City: Montreal
Country/Region: Canada, Montreal

Description

The genesis of the Milton Parc project traces back to a tumultuous period in 1968 within a predominantly working-class and immigrant-inhabited district of Montréal. At that time, a real estate developer, now known as Concordia Estates Ltd., embarked on acquiring the majority of the neighborhood with plans to replace its 19th-century greystone Victorian buildings with a sprawling complex encompassing shopping centers and office towers.

Over the span of 1968 to 1979, a coalition of Milton Parc residents orchestrated a series of mobilizations, comprising protests, marches to City Hall, and the establishment of essential community services like health clinics, daycares, and food-buying cooperatives. The commencement of Phase I of the developer's project in 1972 saw some residents forcibly evicted from their dwellings, leading to various forms of resistance, including the occupation of vacant houses and a sit-in at the Concordia offices, which culminated in the arrest of 56 peaceful demonstrators.

Subsequent years witnessed sustained protests that garnered attention from the developer's financial backers, prompting some to withdraw their support. Concurrently, external factors such as the 1972 international oil crisis and preparations for the 1976 Montréal Olympics led to economic instability and inflation, diminishing the value of Concordia Estates' funding and impeding the realization of their full development plan.

In 1977, amidst a shifting political landscape with the Parti Quebecois ascending to power in Quebec's provincial government and economic turbulence prompting businesses to flee the region, Concordia Estates sought to divest the depreciating Milton Parc property. Capitalizing on their decade-long organizing experience and bolstered by political changes, Milton Parc residents rallied support from various stakeholders, including a local heritage conservation nonprofit and a newly established Technical Resource Group comprising financial consultants, lawyers, and architects.

The pivotal moment arrived in 1980 when the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) officially endorsed the residents' Action Plan, paving the way for neighborhood renovations from 1980 to 1987. The financing model hinged on CMHC's purchase of the entire Milton Parc property in 1979 for USD $4.8 million, supplemented by over USD $5 million in subsidies from the CMHC, the Quebec Government, and the City of Montréal. The remaining expenses were covered through mortgage loans, with the CMHC ensuring favorable interest rates over a 35-year period to maintain rent affordability based on original rates, inclusive of minor increases to cover expenses.

Legally, the establishment of the Communauté Milton-Parc (CMP) in 1987 introduced a novel legal framework, delineating it as a "condominium for social purposes." Under this structure, housing cooperatives and nonprofits collectively own the properties, while sharing responsibilities for maintenance and services. The CMP oversees neighborhood transformation through a community-run nonprofit, resembling a community land trust model but with collective ownership of public spaces and individual ownership of buildings by cooperatives. Strict regulations outlined in the CMP's Declaration of Co-ownership safeguard against unauthorized transactions, ensuring adherence to democratic principles and self-management within the cooperatives. This intricate legal and financial arrangement underscores the residents' commitment to preserving affordable housing and fostering community-driven development.

The CMP shares similarities with a community land trust (CLT), but there are distinct differences in ownership structures. Typically, in a CLT model, the land is solely owned by the trust. However, in Milton Parc, the CMP collectively owns the land surrounding each building, including streets and public spaces, while the cooperatives own both their buildings and the land directly underneath. Similar to a land trust, any property transaction within the CMP must adhere to strict regulations outlined in the CMP’s 'Declaration of Co-ownership,' signed by all co-ops and nonprofits in 1987. Democratic self-management is central to the cooperatives' operations, with activities required to align with the principles outlined in the CMP’s Declaration of Co-ownership.

The case of Milton Parc underscores the significance of grassroots activism in securing affordable housing. Through organized resistance and community mobilization, residents were able to challenge powerful real estate interests and shape the development trajectory of their neighborhood. By leveraging political shifts and external economic factors, they successfully negotiated for governmental support and financial assistance, ultimately establishing a sustainable model of cooperative housing. This example highlights how democratic participation and collective action can effectively address housing inequalities and empower marginalized communities to shape their living environments.

Open Door Affordable Housing Program, Toronto

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Open Door Affordable Housing Program, Toronto

Mismatches Price Diversity Vulnerable groups Demographic/Urban growth
Policies and regulations Local policies Land Planning Governance
Financing Public funding Supply subsidies Demand subsidies

Main objectives of the project

Toronto is facing a growing housing crisis. For this reason, Open Door was set up. Launched in 2016, Open Door accelerates the construction of affordable housing by providing City financial contributions, including capital funding fees and property tax relief, fast-tracking planning approvals, and activating surplus public land.

Date

  • 2016: Implementation

Stakeholders

  • Toronto City Council

Location

Continent: North America
Country/Region: Canada, Toronto

Description

Toronto, as many of the biggest North American cities, face a housing crisis. The reason behind it are multiple, but, for sure, one of the reasons is the insufficient stock of social and affordable housing, For this reason, the Toronto City Council approved the Open Door Affordable Housing Program in 2016 to accelerate the construction of affordable homes by providing financial contributions, including capital funding, as well as fees and property tax relief. The program expedited planning approvals and utilized surplus public land, including properties owned by CreateTO, the Toronto Transit Commission, the Toronto Parking Authority, and Toronto Community Housing. The initiative aimed to deliver 5,000 new affordable rental homes and 2,000 new affordable ownership homes between 2016 and 2020.

In December 2018, Toronto City Council launched Housing Now to further enhance the supply of affordable housing. This program intends to create a mix of affordable rental, market rental, and ownership housing options for households earning between C$21,000 (€14,500) and C$52,000 (€35,800) annually. So far, 11 sites have been identified with the potential to bring forward 10,000 homes, of which 3,700 will be affordable rental units. The city council approved a C$20 (€11.51) million fund to prepare the 11 sites for marketing. This preparation includes adding temporary staff, conducting necessary environmental studies and remediation, market analyses, and planning studies.

The following principles were adopted by Toronto City Council to guide the development of new housing:

1. Develop the sites to achieve the highest possible public benefits.
2. Optimize the development of market and affordable rental housing with a mix of unit types and sizes, ensuring at least 20 percent of all units meet or exceed disabled accessibility standards.
3. Create homes affordable for a diverse range of incomes, including 'deeply affordable' homes. So, average rents across all intermediate units on each site will not exceed 80 percent of the average market rent for the city of Toronto and a minimum of 10 percent of all units will be 'deeply affordable,' rented at 40 percent of average market rent.
4. Appropriately address and accommodate existing city uses and other operations on the 11 sites. Thus, retain public ownership of the properties, prioritizing long-term land leases and engage city councillors and local communities in the planning and development of each property.

This case exemplifies who a big city can push for building rapidly its affordable housing goals, maintaining an idea on inclusion and diversity in its developments.

Global Program for Resilient Housing

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Global Program for Resilient Housing

Mismatches Climate change
Policies and regulations Data and monitoring Evaluation and impact
Promotion and production Innovation

Main objectives of the project

In the past 25 years, disasters have taken 1.3 million lives, with poor households in weak housing hit hardest. The Global Program for Resilient Housing identifies at-risk homes using technology and machine learning, facilitating retrofits through subsidies and private investment. This strategy helps governments save lives, protect investments, and strengthen economies by making housing more resilient to natural hazards.

Date

  • 2022: Implementation

Stakeholders

  • World Bank

Location

Country/Region:

Description

Over the past 25 years, natural disasters have claimed 1.3 million lives and caused extensive damage globally. From earthquakes in Latin America to cyclones in Southeast Asia, these events can strike any country, disproportionately affecting families in substandard housing.

The frequency, severity, and fatality of these disasters are increasing, particularly impacting the poor. Substandard housing with weak construction is especially vulnerable, leading to walls collapsing, roofs being torn off, and structures failing. The World Bank’s Unbreakable report highlights that the impacts of disasters and climate change are over twice as severe for poor households compared to others, as they often reside in the most vulnerable areas with weak housing standards and limited access to credit or insurance.

Enhancing the safety and resilience of housing can protect lives and livelihoods, contributing to sustainable communities. According to the World Bank’s Lifelines report, investing in resilient infrastructure in developing countries yields a net benefit of $4.2 trillion over the lifetime of new infrastructure, with a $4 return for every $1 invested. However, creating a comprehensive strategy for resilient housing presents significant technological and policy challenges.

The Global Program for Resilient Housing has developed a methodology to predict which houses are at the highest risk from natural hazards, identify which can be made safe in time, and connect them with government subsidies and private capital.

As housing resilience becomes a central part of strategies for governments and development institutions, the Global Program for Resilient Housing can help countries and cities secure economic investment, support local construction industries, spare communities from disaster trauma, and most importantly, save lives, all at a fraction of the cost and time.

The process involves five steps:

Step 1: Neighborhoods and houses in cities and communities are mapped using advanced technologies such as drones, street cameras, and machine learning algorithms.

Step 2: Engineers use machine learning to train computers to extract critical information—such as building materials, height, window count, and garage door openings—from images of the mapped areas. This information helps identify potentially vulnerable structures at risk of endangering families.

Step 3: The data is aggregated into a one-stop housing portal containing actionable knowledge for designing and implementing housing plans and activating construction, credit, and insurance markets. The Program team identifies areas of greatest risk, homes needing relocation, houses requiring detailed study, and structures suitable for cost-effective retrofitting.

Step 4: With actionable knowledge, policymakers can design housing subsidy programs to connect affected families with local construction or financial institutions or leverage World Bank loans to maximize finance for resilient housing. Retrofitting supports small and medium-sized construction and financial companies and offers families affordable alternatives to unsafe homes or relocating to unfamiliar areas. The Program adapts international best practices to local contexts to avoid common pitfalls.

Step 5: The Program team supports governments in promoting resilient housing to save lives, protect assets, and shield economies from increasing disaster risks.

Resilient housing offers a way to protect homes from natural hazards. The Program helps quantify the benefits of resilient housing, conducts rapid economic analyses to justify investments, and collaborates with countries, banks, and financial institutions to develop home improvement subsidy policies based on best practices.

This approach appeals to both housing ministers, who respond to disasters, and finance ministers, who fund reconstruction. They recognize that every dollar invested in strengthening infrastructure beforehand can save $10 in reconstruction costs. The program promotes home improvement initiatives that make resilience a central strategy.

Resilient housing safeguards family investments, which is crucial given that up to 90% of a family's life savings are typically invested in their home.

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.