LYON COMMITMENT – Towards an affordable housing society
« Towards an affordable housing society »
“The fundamental human right to adequate housing is the right of every man, woman, youth and child to gain and sustain a safe and secure home and community in which to live in peace and dignity”.
1 – The affordable housing crisis: a global reality, a global challenge
Climate change, economic growth and financialization of the housing sector, urbanization, migration, the challenges facing the planet are closely linked to the housing crisis.
In fact, these challenges are not only the causes but also the consequences of the shortage of decent and affordable housing in cities.
Major demographic upheavals, ageing population and economic and climatic migration, will have a lasting impact on the affordable housing issue, on a global scale.
These developments have a direct impact on cities & metropolises where population is growing faster than the total population. Within a few years, the majority of humans will live in cities, facing problems of overcrowding, poverty, water supply and transportation issues, increasing land and housing prices, in other words: a global housing crisis.
The global climate and environmental crises cannot be addressed without considering all aspects of the housing challenge: economic, financial, technological, geographical and social.
The growing financialization of housing linked to this urbanization is also problematic to the extent that many investors are now looking for short-term profitable assets rather than stable and long-term productive investments in the social infrastructure needed to provide affordable and quality housing.
2 – Joining forces to save affordable housing: « a new deal for housing »
Faced with these challenges, local policies must be implemented by means of the mobilization of all actors in order to provide new answers to the affordable housing challenge. This new deal must consist of:
- Reaffirming the commitment to implement the right to housing by all levels of government, as well as the notion of the common good as regards social housing: its use must be protected, free from any attempt of financialization,
- Providing solutions to complex and specific needs: people with limited income, homeless people, elderly people, youths, migrants, large families, people with disabilities or mental illnesses…,
- Promoting local and partnership actions that enable the increase in household’s purchasing power and dynamism
- Defining new ways of building the city, respectful of the environment and adapted to climatic variations, natural disasters and land shortage,
- Supporting initiatives working to reclaim and realize the right to housing, as well as those initiatives that promote citizenship and living together, in particular through social diversity and access to social rights.
In general terms, it is a question of rethinking the provision of social and affordable housing in all its dimensions: land, quality, price, long-term funding, services, energy performance, etc.
To be successful, these answers must be supported by a new legislative and financial framework that is stable and favorable to long-term investment in social and affordable housing.
3 – The European Union must be exemplary: for an affordable Housing action plan 2019-2024
The Cradle of Human Rights and Social Housing: the EU must be exemplary on a global scale as regards affordable housing. The EU can neither accept the under-investment in public infrastructure that marks this post-crisis decade, nor the 70% increase in the number of homeless people in European cities. The EU must support and facilitate the social and affordable housing policies of the Member States and their cities. In its contribution to the next strategic agenda for 2019-2024, the Commission has recently recognized that the EU “needs access to quality, energy-efficient and affordable housing for all in Europe” for an equitable Europe that must make the European Social Rights Foundation a reality in the next term of office.
We call upon the future European Parliament and the next Commission to adopt a social and affordable Housing action plan 2019-2024 consistent with international and regional human rights obligations and debate 5 concrete proposals:
- Social and affordable housing at the heart of the EU Urban Agenda: Renewing the Housing Partnership of the EU Urban Agenda by helping European cities cooperate with each other in order to develop new policies for the provision of social and affordable housing.
- A European investment fund dedicated to affordable housing: Creating a specific European investment fund for social and affordable housing that will support and assist local (cities, metropolises) and national investments.
- Ensure that Housing is a “protected investment of the future”: Excluding investments in Social Housing from the Stability Pact, while respecting the various local issues in housing markets.
- Implement effectively the “Housing and assistance to homeless people” part of the European Pillar of Social Rights
- Preserve and strengthen a European legal framework for social and affordable housing: Consolidating the legal framework applicable to affordable housing in the internal market, in particular as regards Services of General Economic Interest, State aids, reduced VAT rates, public-public cooperation.
These concrete proposals for action must be discussed at a European Housing Summit, organized on the initiative of the European Parliament.