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    Arwen Dewilde
    City of Ghent


    European cities face higher levels of Early Leaving from Education and Training (ELET) than their national averages, meaning that some urban areas have more ELET rates, than the countryside areas - contrary to the national trends of these cities' countires. This represents a serious challenge, as ELET has significant societal and individual consequences, such as a higher risk of unemployment, poverty, marginalization and social exclusion. Tackling this issue means breaking the cycle of deprivation and the intergenerational transmission of poverty and inequality.

    Boosting the Frequency of Qualification
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  • Greening as a pathway to resilience in urban areas

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    Leafy places in cities can greatly improve health and happiness. But here’s the thing: green isn’t always good for everyone.

    City planning

    Most people now agree that green is good for health and resilience. Greening urban areas and connecting them to water, or ’blue’ areas, is high on the agenda in most towns and cities. Yet, says URBACT Programme Expert Iván Tosics, even this seemingly self-evident issue is not without contradictions. In this article, he looks beyond the general “green is good” statement and finds a more nuanced picture.


    It has been said many times, almost to the point of banality, that during Covid times, the demand for outdoor activites grew dramatically, leading to a marked increase in the use of parks and outdoor spaces. We all saw this in our cities in Europe. However, this did not necessarily happen to the same extent everywhere in the world. There is an interesting website, based on Google data, showing how the number of visitors to parks and outdoor spaces has changed compared to the selected baseline period, January 2020. Although it is not easy to interpret the data due to factors such as seasonal differences between North and South, we can hypothesise that in Europe and the global North, green areas were able to meet the increase in demand more easily, being generally more secure and better maintained than those in many parts of the global South.

    There are many good summaries about the immediate, easy-to-reach interventions by cities as a reaction to Covid – see for example my article on temporary interventions in the use of public spaces, such as closing streets and creating pop-up bike lanes, or encouraging street play. Key questions discussed in this article are: what kind of tactical interventions into greening are observable? And how can these be turned into long-term, strategic programmes, avoiding potential pitfalls?

    Many people think that all greening efforts are good for the wellbeing of citizens in general, and their health in particular. However, it is necessary to go beyond this cliché, understanding the different ways to implement the greening of cities, highlighting the efforts made to achieve synergy with other aspects of sustainable and resilient development, and calling attention to potential unwanted externalities of greening projects – among which the most important is the potential increase in socio-spatial differentiation through gentrification.

    Types and benefits of green places

    Owen Douglas, of the Eastern and Midland Regional Assembly in Ireland, listed the benefits of green spaces in his presentation at the URBACT Health&Greenspace Academy in December 2020. These include: enabling physical activities; improving mental well-being; supporting social interactions; and reducing environmental risks of air pollution and extreme weather events.

    Green infrastructure planning can do a lot to mitigate stressful city life in compact cities, with strategically planned networks of natural and semi-natural areas, and creating new green and ‘blue’ spaces – areas of water. To achieve that, green infrastructure planning has to be multifunctional, including a diversity of green elements, such as: large natural areas as hubs; forests and parks as green parcels; smaller private gardens, playgrounds, roadside greenery, or green roofs as individual elements; corridors connecting the hubs, parcels and elements; and finally land use buffers, as transition areas, separating dense urban spaces from the suburbs.

    In another presentation at the December 2020 URBACT Health&Greenspace Academy, Eduarda Marques da Costa, of the University of London, listed different types of green space interventions, from overarching development of new neighbourhoods through regeneration of residential areas and brownfield areas, including smaller-scale improvements to public spaces and support for urban gardening.

    Innovative greening examples

    Let us see now a few examples of the different types of greening interventions and their potential consequences.

    Certain European cities have conducted large projects of strategic importance to improve sustainability and resilience.

    Barcelona, Parc de les Glories (photo by Iván Tosics, November 2021)

    Barcelona (ES) provides an excellent example, with its efforts to renaturalise the densely built-up city. One of the emblematic projects is the rebuilding of the Plaça de les Glòries Catalanes: besides the demolition of the elevated roundabout for cars and the building of a new High Speed Train station, a large new park is being erected under the motto of renaturalisation.

    Utrecht (NL) has put re-canalisation into the core of its urban development strategy. Forty years after the historic mistake of converting the canal that encircled Utrecht’s old town into a 12-lane motorway, in 2020, the city opened the canal back up again. The restoration of the waterway was the central piece of the 2002 referendum in which residents voted for a city-centre master plan with the aim to replace roads with water. With the reopening of the Catharijnesingel, Utrecht’s inner city is again surrounded by water and greenery rather than asphalt and car traffic.

    Paris (FR) has undergone large changes since the election of Mayor Anne Hidalgo in 2014. One of the key elements of the changes towards more sustainable urban development is the permanent pedestrianisation of roads along the river Seine and certain canals, which made the access to waterfront areas much easier.

    Another pathway towards more sustainability is to renovate, animate, and improve the safety of existing green areas. A prime example of this is the case of Bryant park in New York (US). This was one of the no-go areas of the city, getting the nickname 'Needle Park' in the 1970s because of the large number of drug addicts who frequented it. Changes started in 1988 with an extensive renovation of the park, including radical physical restructuring of the area, making the green space attractive, transparent and lively, clearing areas to let in light, installing many moveable chairs, and creating coffee places. The park has been transformed from an insecure to a lovely space. 


    Breda, Valkenberg Park

    A similar story is the redesign of the Valkenberg Park in Breda (NL) to improve safety, presented at the URBACT Health&Greenspace Academy in October 2021 by David Louwerse, project manager, Municipality of Tilburg.

    The most common greening interventions in European cities are smaller interventions, such as creating urban gardens, or greening streets and rooftops. An article by Tamás Kállay, Lead Expert of the URBACT Health&Greenspace network, gives a good overview of such initiatives. He mentiones Tartu (EE), where “meadow boxes were placed on the road. A beach bar was opened, and the street section accommodated also an outdoor reading room, a market, picnic tables, an outdoor cinema, and various programs”. Another example from the Health&Greenspace network is Poznań (PL), where “as part of a pilot activity natural playgrounds were created in the yards of several kindergartens providing direct contact with nature and supporting creative play”.

    Such examples demonstrate that “… small green space interventions, both physical changes and social activities can trigger a massive change and lead to larger actions promoting positive health outcomes.” This conclusion is further supported by another URBACT article, arguing for the importance of walking, not only in shopping streets, but also across all neighbourhoods – including ‘consumption-free’ areas.

    Besides punctual interventions, many cities aim to ensure fair distribution of green across the whole city and to connect green areas into networks. Poznań is good example for the latter, aiming to protect the green belt around the city from real estate development and urban sprawl, while also increasing forest cover within the city boundaries and preserving and improving existing parks and green spaces.

    Changing people's mindset and reorganising the structure of local government

    Hegyvidék, district 12 of Budapest, Lead Partner of Health&Greenspace, provides innovative examples of public spaces being improved and used more frequently thanks to new ideas, rather than concrete physical greening interventions. In order to change people's mindset, the “…municipality identified ‘green prescription’ as an appropriate tool for linking cardiac rehabilitation with the Active Hegyvidék program. Green prescription is a written advice of a health professional to a patient to participate in some sort of nature-based activity.”

    Hegyvidék is also pioneering an institutional restructuring of the the municipality, creating a so-called Green office. Changes can also be achieved without reorganising the municipality. For example, the URBACT network UrbSecurity presents an Urban Planning Game where Leiria’s municipal technicians develop step-by-step new approaches to increase the security of public spaces in the city. Cities can also use nudging techniques to influence behaviour, as many of the publications of Pieter Raymaekers (Leuven) show.

    The positive effects of greening and their link to urban planning

    Another URBACT network, Healthy Cities, focuses on including health considerations systematically into urban planning. To make this easier, a new tool has been developed, enabling users to quickly assess the health impact of their whole urban plan, and see how small adjustments could make a big difference to the lives of local people. This Healthy Cities Generator is a practical planning tool designed to give actionable indicators for anyone looking to integrate health into planning. It is based on a systematic review of scientific peer-reviewed publications linking urban determinants and their impact on health, through which the tool automatically calculates the health impact of urban planning actions.

    The integration of green considerations into planning can best be achieved by regulating the access to green areas at metropolitan level – this proved to be very useful during the Covid pandemic in those urban areas, where metropolitan coordination was strong enough.

    A word of caution: potential dangers of greening interventions

    Against all good will, greening interventions can also have negative effects, if not applied in an integrated manner, without creating synergies with other aspects of development.  

    Greening usually goes well with sustainable urban mobility interventions. When regenerating public spaces, areas taken away from cars can give place to green elements, for example changing motorways into urban boulevards with trees, pedestrianising streets, turning parking spaces into ‘parklets’ with moveable plant pots. However, if large green developments are concentrated in peripheral areas of cities that are difficult to access by public transport, they can easily result in increased car use. In a broader sense, this is a danger in all green developments that create large spatial imbalances in cities, i.e. new green areas far away from many residents who would like to use them.

    When managed in the right way, greening can have very important social advantages: it is a good tool to better involve disadvantaged groups into society. Greening can help the social involvement of the elderly and school children – see for example the OASIS project, converting schoolyards into green cooling islands in Paris. Even so, the biggest danger of greening interventions lies in their negative social externalities, through the gentrification process.

    Gentrification can take various forms. The direct form is the regeneration of socially contested areas into high-quality neighbourhoods. If no parallel efforts are made to support disadvantaged groups, the outcome will be socially unacceptable: pushing out disadvantaged social groups to other parts of the city. I described this process in an earlier article, on the case of Teleki tér, Budapest (HU), comparing this one-sided, gentrifying regeneration to the more integrated approach used in the case of Helmholtz square, Berlin (DE). The latter, through ongoing social assistance, is much closer to the URBACT-supported integrated approach, despite the fact that participative planning was also applied in the Budapest case. 

    Budapest, Teleki square with fences around, 2015.

    Berlin, Helmholtz square, 2015.
    Source: Imre Pákozdi

    A more common and less direct form of gentrification prevails through the increase of property values and rents in areas of improving quality of life, for example due to green interventions, which leads to the gradual displacement of people of lower socio-economic status. This well-known market mechanism can be kept under control with public regulations on rents, housing allowances and/or maintaining a substantial share of publicly owned housing. Unfortunately, such public interventions to control gentrification are rarely applied (or even considered) along with urban greening.

    Greening is an essential form of environmental intervention. The principle of integrated development requires a certain balance between economic, environmental and social aspects of development. This, however, is not easy to achieve, even in cases when there is strong determination to keep the balance. The comparison of two European cities, developing new ecological areas, illustrates the difficulties, showing how overly strong insistence on high environmental standards might lead to the deterioration of social goals, if public resources are limited. If greening aspects are given preference over social protection aspects, the outcome is again gentrification, against the original will of the politicians.

    Vienna, Aspern Seestadt, 2018. Source: Iván Tosics

    Stockholm, Hammarby Sjöstad, 2006. Source: Iván Tosics

    This article aimed to show that greening is usually a very advantageous aspect of urban development. However, certain dilemmas and potential pitfalls must be taken into account when planning green policies and interventions. With careful procedures, including green infrastructure planning as part of an integrated vision, and measuring the green and social outcomes of all investments, these pitfalls can be avoided.

    Come and meet us!

    This topic will be discussed at the upcoming URBACT City Festival on 15 June 2022 in a session titled ‘Greening as pathway to urban well-being and resilience’. The session will feature good practices from three URBACT Action Planning Networks, Health&Greenspace, Healthy Cities, and UrbSecurity.

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  • Fighting homelessness: the role of cities

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    [[{"fid":"25291","view_mode":"default","fields":{"format":"default","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_author[und][0][value]":""},"type":"media","field_deltas":{"1":{"format":"default","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_author[und][0][value]":""}},"link_text":null,"attributes":{"height":1322,"width":1322,"style":"height: 150px; width: 150px; margin: 6px; float: right;","class":"media-element file-default","data-delta":"1"}}]]Laura Colini, URBACT programme expert gives an overview of the Policy LAB and URBACT Knowledge Hub initiative’s collaboration with FEANTSA and the Mairie de Paris, following their December 2018 gathering to share information, exchange local practices and launch collaboration among small, medium and large administrations in Europe to combat homelessness.

    Inaccessible, inadequate, unaffordable, undignified, insecure or absent housing are conditions feeding the downward spiral of individual and societal deprivation. In Europe such conditions affect a growing number of people in different ways. Public authorities carry responsibility for dealing with a problem, not due to individual circumstances but rather a lack of housing, welfare failures and predatory market-oriented practices.

    Housing NOT for all

    Abandoned Spaces

    According to Eurostat, 82mil people are affected by the housing overburden rate, meaning they spend over 40% of their disposal income on housing costs. House prices are rising throughout Europe, whereas incomes are mostly stagnating. Meanwhile homelessness is on the increase almost everywhere.

    The most comprehensive analysis on homelessness in Europe was provided by the “Third Overview of Housing Exclusion in Europe” report by the European Federation of National Organisations Working with the Homeless (Feantsa) and the French Abbe Pierre Foundation. It provides a gloomy picture of homelessness skyrocketing across Europe, with the highest rates being 169% in England, 150% in Germany and 145% in Ireland.

    In particular, in Germany, the BAG W (the umbrella organisation of non-profit homeless service providers) estimated there were 860,000 homeless in 2016 with a prognosis of 1.2 mil for 2018, a further 40% increase due to asylum seekers. In Ireland 8,897 were estimated to be in shelter accommodation, and 3,333 children were registered as homeless (end of 2017) which is 1 in 3 homeless being a child. Discrimination and fragility of certain groups are also largely under-studied and underrepresented by statistics such as women, LGBTIQ, prisoners becoming homeless after release, etc.

    Measurement and causes

    One of the main difficulties in addressing homelessness in EU, national and local public policies is the provision of accurate statistics due to the techniques used to gather them and how homelessness is defined. If accurate measurement is crucial for designing evidence-based policies, an analysis of the causes of homelessness is crucial in designing appropriate policy measures. The causes might often be hidden or misinterpreted: one of many persistent misconceptions is that homelessness is the result of individual circumstances rather than unjust inequalities in housing, welfare, public services, jobs and, above all, wealth creation and distribution.

    One of the main findings of a study by Fransham and Dorling (2018), is that one of the main causes of homelessness is the “end of private-sector tenancy”, namely the lack of affordable and adequate housing solutions. This is clearly a systemic issue depending on the housing market and its distortions.

    Along the same lines Leilani Fahra, the UN Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing, points out that the phenomenon of homelessness is dependent on how the residential real estate sector is dealt with globally.

    Indeed, homelessness has to be contextualised in a discourse on wealth production and the role of government in providing leeway to unregulated financialised residential real estate markets, meaning viewing housing not as a right but as a commodity – a financial asset to leverage more capital. Contradictions are evident, according to Leilani Fahra, when linking data to national GDP. “Germany is the 4th-largest country in the EU in terms of GDP with 420,000 homeless (excluding refugees), Italy the 8th largest GDP with roughly 50,000; France 6th with 480 people dying on the streets every year” Leilani Fahra, Housing For All, Conference (Vienna 04.12.2018). Therefore, how can housing be transformed into a guaranteed right in the context of scarce affordable housing and increasing injustice?

    Housing all homeless is possible

    Macro-economic trends are fundamental to understand why scarcity is maintained to fuel capital, and why housing is the most profitable sector worldwide. However, at micro-economic level cities must have a say. Local governments can count on many instruments and solutions to counteract housing shortages, prevent homelessness and support every citizen starting from those most in need.

    The seminar in Paris called on EU cities engaged in fighting homelessness to share their practices and experiences in designing and implementing strategies fighting homelessness.

    The seminar covered the challenges of measuring homelessness, the implementation of the Housing First programme, practices of homelessness prevention, and reuse of vacant buildings.

    Every thematic area was presented and debated through the experience of cities active within the URBACT programme and city administrations collaborating with FEANTSA. What follows is a glimpse at the topics and practices of some of the cities contributing to the success of the seminar.

    Counting homeless in Paris (FR): La Nuit Solidaire

    Although homelessness falls within the jurisdiction of the French state, moral and political responsibility for homelessness is considered part of the mandate of the City of Paris under the socialist mayor Anne Hidalgo. Since 2015 the city has built a coalition of partners around a plan to fight social exclusion (Pacte Parisien de lutte contre la grande exclusion 2015-2020) and reduce street homelessness, including the recent city-wide plan to use public buildings as emergency shelters.

    Paris has 2.1 m inhabitants (metropolis 6.7 m, urban area 11 m) and provides 16,000 shelter beds with around an additional 2,000 in winter. Homelessness has been on the rise for the last 20 years. Street homelessness is highly visible, but reliable data and research are lacking. To gain a clearer picture the “La Nuit Solidaire” initiative managed by the Mayor’s Office was launched overnight between 15th and 16th of February 2018 to count the number of street homeless in its urban area by 356 coordinated teams, comprising 1 professional and 4 or 5 volunteers – with training ahead of time for the professionals and on the spot for volunteers. Around 2,000 civil servants and volunteers participated in the nocturnal count of homeless people city wide, street by street, conducting a survey to gather information on demographics, sleeping places, use of homeless services, and needs.

    The results provide significant findings that both contradict and enrich the information gathered previously. According to Mme BenoitIn Paris homelessness is a phenomenon of concentration and dispersion, which concerns the whole city. The survey uncovered some significant data: for instance, it was estimated that around 5% of homeless were women, but in reality it turned out to be 12% due to fact that women tend to hide and thus are not as visible in public spaces. Moreover, the survey showed that approximately 64% of those in need do not call 115 (the number for Samusocial proving emergency support for people on the streets).” Moreover, the survey shows that the phenomenon of homelessness is closely related to spatial dynamics that differentiate location preferences in relation to age, short- and long-term experience of homelessness, recipients of 115 support, etc.

    As a follow-up, every year in February the survey will be repeated, possibly extending beyond the peripheral line of Paris to the metropolitan area. The Solidarity Bubble centre has been created to host a 5-point programme to provide education on the reality of homelessness, combat stereotypes and preconceived notions; promote projects aligned with municipal priorities; provide training on homelessness and skills useful when serving them; and help volunteers connect with opportunities or test their own ideas.

    Housing First: how Finland (FI) and the city of Helsinki stop homelessness

    Housing First provides unconditional accommodation for people experiencing homelessness successfully applied in the United States, Canada and several European countries. “A Housing First service is first and foremost concerned with providing housing to homeless persons immediately or very quickly, combined with support tailored to the individual. Within this framework, the immediate focus is placed on enabling a person to live in their own home.

    In Europe Housing First has been successfully adopted in many cities and applied throughout Finland, the only country in Europe where homelessness has fallen. The particularity of this case is that Housing First has been adopted at national level with three main targets: halve long-term homelessness by 2011 and end it by 2015; reinforce the Housing First approach as a mainstream organising principle for housing and support services for the homeless; and convert all shelters and dormitory-type hostels into supported housing units.

    The Ministry decided to take action in 10 municipalities with existing homeless shelters being gradually improved and turned into serviced flats (some with 24/7 help). Many existing old buildings in poor locations were turned into flats for the homeless: a “big hostel for the homeless in Helsinki with 250 beds was run by the Salvation Army. (Around 2014) this hostel was renovated to become 80 independent apartments with on-site staff.” There are different grades of flat: serviced flats in large buildings or scattered flats with no service across the city, owned by the Municipality or housing associations, which through loans from the Municipality allow new flats to be built. Tommi Tolmunen, a Helsinki social worker, points out that “this is different to the staircase model in which escaping homelessness is the result of good behaviour. In Housing First the initial step is to hand over a key and say let’s talk when you’re ready…” An important change was the moral attitude toward the provision of support: “to stop taking drugs and get treatment for alcoholism is no longer a precondition for a flat”.

    Today all units are full and waiting time is over a year. “The problem is that people are not moving out from these units as fast as those wanting to move in…” Tommi Tolmunen. Alternative housing solutions and flexible support and services are the next challenges for a thus-far-successful method, from which other EU cities are learning (see Housing First Europe Hub).

    Prevention of homelessness: Strategy against eviction in Barcelona (ES)

    The city of Barcelona is one of the best examples of public policy being implemented to combat housing speculation. From the period of booming investment in the late nineties up to the financial crisis, the real estate sector witnessed a flurry of speculation leading to mass evictions (Coq-Huelva, 2013; García‐ Lamarca and Kaika, 2016): Between 2008 and 2015 there were 35,234 evictions in Barcelona. The city has 1.7 m inhabitants (metropolitan area 3 m) and less than 1.5% social housing. Since 2017 rent has increased by 7.8%, house prices by 9.2%, and there have been an average of 30 evictions each week (81% rental).

    The Municipality aims for more social housing but its provision is the remit of the Generalitat, the Government body of Catalonia. Despite this, the Municipality of Barcelona has formulated the comprehensive Right to Housing Plan 2016-2025 Barcelona, with a 5-point strategy to improve housing affordability, adequacy and accessibility. Among the many actions to guarantee housing as a basic right to all citizens, the Municipality is creating its own housing association, which will build on land offered by the Municipality. A special service to support people affected by eviction is provided in the Right to Housing Plan called Intermediation Service for People in the Process of Evictions and Occupancies (SIPHO), which received the URBACT good practice label. Specialised lawyers work in housing offices (13 across the city) coordinating the efforts of social services in each district. With 10 m euros of funding, these offices offer help in mediation with landlords, management of debt and arrears, legal aid, alternative housing, and advice and information. “Citizens are informed via different communication channels, and shown a graph explaining the steps they need to take within 15 days to avoid eviction”.

    In 2017, this service attended 2,351 new families in residential exclusion, which represents more than 7000 people of which 2,377 were minors.

    Reuse of vacant building

    In 2014 a UK-based NGO calculated that there are 11 m vacant homes in Europe (over 3.4m in Spain, over 2m in each of France and Italy, 1.8m in Germany and over 700,000 in the UK).

    A ‘healthy’ vacancy rate for a housing market, both in the US and Europe, is considered to be 3 to 5 %. When vacancies rise, house prices should decrease and vice versa in response to supply and demand mechanisms. However, high vacancy rates have gone hand in hand with rising house prices especially in Mediterranean countries”. In practice, high vacancy rates to not automatically lead to reductions in house prices. Most problematic are empty dwellings likely to remain so for long periods (overoptimistic pricing, unfit for habitation / reluctance to invest in refurbishment, inheritance, health, etc., holiday home, change of occupants, voluntarily off the market).

    The question of whether this housing stock can be a potential supply for the lack of affordable housing, demands different types of information and competencies regarding data about property, existing vacancy and market dynamics, expertise in urban planning, competences in legislative and fiscal conditions etc.. In particular, taxation procedures and strategic incentives can make a difference in potential use of vacant apartments: Is a discount offered if the empty apartment is rented out? Is there discount for social renting? In England, local authorities can demand a local tax increase of up to 50% for properties that have been unoccupied and unfurnished for more than two years. And in terms of incentives, some local authorities in England, suggest that owners rent their property long term (5 to 10 years) to renters chosen by the council and awards a vacant housing grant to cover 50% of the renovation costs.

    In Paris, urban planning and municipal decision making, especially though the Plan to Fight Social Exclusion, have made a difference in the reuse of vacant buildings for social purposes. There are many examples such as the reuse operated by an intermediary between the space owner and the operator of activities that will be hosted during the period before redevelopment; the reuse of former hospital Saint Vincent de Paul to host shelters and charities vacant before being redeveloped as social housing. The re-use of public buildings, known to have been empty for at least 2 years, turning them into temporary shelters like the example of public buildings for homeless women managed by NGOs. However, as Gabriel Visier, who works on a day-to-day basis with NGOs, warns “the use of vacant spaces for shelters implies some challenges: there are costs in turning them into places suitable for use as a shelter (showers, kitchens…), sometimes the period the vacant building can host a temporary shelter is too short to be financially viable for the charity that will operate it (as it must to provide the investment required to make the space fit for use as a shelter, but will have little time to pay off that investment).” The necessity to relocate the shelter once redevelopment starts is also a major challenge charities are facing.

    On a smaller urban scale, the Municipality of Villafranca del Penedes (ES) created a strategy to facilitate accessibility of affordable housing through the URBACT good practice programme, which maps empty buildings, provides rehabilitation for social purposes, uses construction work for occupational training and job promotion for the unemployed, and ultimately housing for families in need. The procedure is fairly simple and has been running successfully for 25 years: first, the owners of vacant old buildings can voluntarily request to be part of the programme; second, the city council analyses each case, if fit, makes a contract with the owner who transfers the use of the building to the city council for a period of time proportional to the size of the investment; third, construction is carried out with training monitored by Social Services; fourth, the selection of beneficiary families, preferential rent up to 5 years. Since 1992 250 flats have been renovated, with 90 still managed by the municipality. Over 500 families have been helped this way, and beneficiaries are contacted every 2nd month by social services.

    Contextual conditions for the programme’s success are crucial: In Vilafranca few banks are registered as home owners as it would be difficult to cooperate with them; the owners of old vacant buildings cannot easily sell their flats, and heritage law creates problems. Moreover, they are also unwilling to have flats remain empty due to the threat of squatters. As such, home owners, who cannot be forced to participate, see an advantage in joining the programme. The variety of cases and practices in the reuse of vacant buildings is manifold and context related. URBACT has produced an online tool of practices to showcase some of the solutions implemented across Europe.

    Special thanks go to all the city participants ( e.g., Ghent, Manchester, Newcastle, Gothenburg, Lisbon, Thessaloniki et al.) of the seminar, which contributed cases, examples and questions from local practices to be showcased in an upcoming report.

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  • The housing paradox: what can local municipalities do?

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    The negative consequences of the financialisation of housing can be felt first and foremost on a local level, in the urban housing markets. Thus the crucial questions are: what are local municipalities doing? Or to what extent can the growing problem of affordable housing be handled on a local level?


    The differences between European cities are even larger than between countries – depending on political colours, cities within the same country might have totally different answers to the same challenges.

    Here is a short overview of positive examples, i.e. cases where cities achieved success to mitigate or prevent the problems on the housing market – either through subtracting land out of the property market (i.e. limiting speculation) or through creating additional resources to make housing affordable. The sources of the information are international meetings and the very informative book of Patti-Polyák (2017).

    Community-led housing models

    According to Patti-Polyák a diversity of community-led housing (CLH) models have emerged across Europe including the Danish co-housing model focuses on shared spaces and environmental sustainability and the traditional cooperative housing model in Germany, Switzerland and France - which are undergoing a renewal with a focus on democratic governance and anti-speculation. Meanwhile, the Anglophone Community Land Trust model that aims to pull land out of the property market, is progressively gaining a foothold in continental Europe.

    Community-Led Housing projects are costly and require investments exceeding the financial capacity of most inhabitants, particularly low-income households. To be viable and to leverage sufficient economic resources, community-driven housing initiatives need to organise a wide range of actors around their project and attract external funders. For example, the organisations Stiftung Trias and Edith Maryon Stiftung are acquiring land for non-profit purposes and providing long-term leaseholds to civic actors with the aim of enabling non-speculative housing developments. Community-Led Housing projects usually start by aggregating their economic capacities and financial means in the form of savings. Resources that were put in common are then used to leverage further public and private funding. In fact, the success and adaptability of Community-Led Housing models depend largely on the capacity of inhabitants to negotiate external funding at favourable conditions (at low interest rates, for instance) and to advocate for public support mechanisms, such as public guarantees or enabling public policies.

    Since 2015 Barcelona (ES) introduced new models for affordable housing. One form of this is based on giving public land to cooperatives. Javier Buron Cuadrado, Housing Manager of Barcelona city council described this model in the Smart City Expo World Congress in Barcelona (November 2018), starting from the point that in Spain cities do not have power in housing policy, as this is regulated on regional level. Even so, Barcelona has set up the Right to Housing Plan 2016-2025 with the aim to create more than 18 000 affordable housing units, mainly on rental basis. New ideas are used, such as building temporary places and using rooftops. Barcelona also tries to negotiate with the settlements of the metropolitan area, where at least 75 000 affordable units are missing. All types of financial and technological ideas are discussed, especially how to build faster and cheaper. Barcelona is open to all solutions existing in other cities, coming from residents and the academia, to find answers to the affordable housing challenge.

    The Community Land Trust (Patti-Polyák) is an interesting Anglophone model. This is an organisational form in which communities come together to address housing issues. Perceiving a need, a group starts to look for land. This can be in the form of raising capital from an ethical lender for buying land, asking for municipally owned land or through private negotiations with a farmer. The next step is building new houses or redeveloping existing houses into affordable homes. When the community achieves ownership of the land, they can make housing on it affordable. They can sell homes or properties, at about half the market rate. It can be a shared ownership model, or be a socially rented model.

    In the book, the case of the Granby Four street Community Land Trust is described in details. In a poor area of Liverpool (UK), a former residents association was re-created as Community Land Trust in 2011. They met up with a few partners and began to draw plans together for an urban regeneration process with very small incremental stages. In 2012, the association won a small urban garden competition, the result of which got noticed by the Steinbeck Studio social investment organisation. They saw what was happening in the neighbourhood, liked the idea of citizens being active in the community and offered a £ 500 000 loan. From that moment, Liverpool City Council also began to take notice and started discussions with the Community Land Trust, finally deciding to transfer 10 properties over to the Granby 4 Streets Community Land Trust. The Community Land Trust holds the land in trust, separating its value from the building on it, and it fixes the price the buildings can be sold for later. Any value increase is locked in by the Community Land Trust for community benefit, so the profit motive has been cut out.

    Using public land in new way

    Berlin (DE) is well known as a city of pioneering attempts to change the usual market oriented models. During a long period of experimentation with temporary use projects, and initiatives mobilising protests against large-scale development projects like the Media Spree, the idea emerged to develop economically sound and secure models of tenancy, based on long-term rental contracts or cooperative ownership arrangements. An example for that is the StadtNeuDenken initiative with a new concept for privatisation (Patti-Polyák). The basic idea is to change the privatisation mechanisms from the highest bid to fixed prices and the best concept.

    This idea was soon adopted by the municipality of Paris (FR) and shortly after the victory of Anne Hidalgo in 2014 their own top-down version of concept-based privatisation was launched in a series of competitions. Besides defining affordable housing goals, Hidalgo and deputy mayor Missika launched the urban development competition: Reinventing Paris. 23 municipally owned sites were selected in Paris – some in quite deprived and remote areas to sell public land, linking sales price to its future use. In an attempt to foster innovation in real estate and extending the scope of urban commons only multi-disciplinary teams could win, and the final users had to be included from the beginning. The competition was very successful and since then two new rounds were launched, on a similar basis.

    Municipal regulation against housing speculation

    Vienna (AT) is known worldwide for sustainable and inclusive urban development, of which housing policy is one of the corner-stones. The city is probably the biggest public landlord in the world with 220 000 public rental units. A particular challenge recently was the quick growth of the city, having in the last years 12-20 000 people moving yearly to Vienna. This means a need for building at least an additional 6 000 housing units yearly. There is, thus, a growing interest for land, suitable for new housing.

    Vienna recognised quickly, that in the case of open competition the interest of international investors would lead to the increase of prices of the scarce land reserves for housing. One of the leading principles of urban development in Vienna is the inclusivity of the city, avoiding changes in the housing market that would push certain strata out. In order to avoid price increases as consequence of speculative capital investments, making housing in the longer term unaffordable, Vienna reacted quickly. A new regulation is about to be introduced, limiting access of investors to real estate that is potentially suitable for affordable housing. The regulation aims to maximize the purchase price for the land, introducing a rule so flats cannot be sold for 40 years to maximise the rent of new units. Moreover, another new decision requires that half (later 2/3) of any new housing projects should qualify for the affordable housing model, determined by the city. These are important initiatives by the public sector to regulate the market, to avoid price increases - as a consequence of financialisation of housing.

    Need for cross-country agreement on the social understanding of housing

    For the moment, the efforts to handle the negative consequences of the financialisation of housing lead only to limited results on a national level and the local attempts face even more challenges.
    For example, Sorcha Edwards from Housing Europe reported on a Dublin (IE) case, where a local group was bidding for an empty standing building to turn it into social housing, but their position was hopeless as their competitor was the largest US pension fund.

    It is clear that international cooperation and joint efforts are needed to strengthen the social aspect of housing, as opposed to the market commodity understanding of it.

    In the Vienna Housing for All conference a range of ideas were raised on how such an international effort could be initiated.

    EU or national government intervention

    Barbara Steenbergen, International Union of Tenants, emphasized that mergers between real estate funds are going on in order to avoid national taxation. The EU and national governments should find out ways to keep housing affordable: real estate investors should be limited or stopped at all to buy up the existing affordable housing stock.

    A European housing forum

    Kieran McCarthy, Member of the EU Committee of the Regions, Councillor of the City of Cork (IE), suggested organizing a European Housing Forum. In the Committee of the Regions housing, it should be taken more seriously, it cannot remain one of the last priorities.

    A set rate of income share, a basic right and the end of VAT

    Evelyn Regner, Member of the European Parliament (S&D), pointed to the European Semester as one of the possibilities, where housing could be included without making huge changes in the basic documents of the EU. She suggested including the principle that people should not spend more than a given share of their incomes for housing costs. Housing should be acknowledged as a basic right. The EU should take steps to achieve housing-related expenses without or with little VAT, which would bring a real decrease of housing costs to normal people.

    The European Semester

    Jörg Wojahn, Representative of the European Commission in Austria, also mentioned the importance of the European Semester, turning soft law into a harder tool. Already today large sums of EU money, some EUR 1,5 billion is invested into housing. Also, loans from EIB and some parts of the Juncker fund (for the energy efficiency in buildings), should be taken into account. However it is clear, that e.g. energy efficiency investments make housing more expensive, thus such investments have to be acknowledged as long term financial commitments, and should be made exempt from the deficit rules. The European elections are a good moment to vote for candidates who agree in the importance of urban and housing issues against the dominance of agriculture and other investment goals.

    EU and municipal responsibility

    Lea Ortiz, deputy mayor Barcelona complained about dozens of evictions weekly in the city (against all efforts of the municipality), and about the fact that investors are buying up growing parts of the city. She also suggested turning to Europe, influencing the upcoming EP elections. The view that “housing is not responsibility of the EU” should be changed. Sustainable and just cities cannot be achieved without a growing public influence on the housing markets and the EU has a large responsibility to achieve that. The movement of cities - the emerging municipal cooperation - should push housing to become part of the discussions in Europe.

    Banning private equity fund investments and airtime at the G20   

    Leilani Farha, UN Special Rapporteur on adequate housing suggested putting the financialisation of housing on the agenda of G20, as the finance ministers of this group are of crucial importance. After food security, housing should be on their agenda. Private equity funds should be banned from investing into residential housing just as investments into harmful environmental investments is already prohibited.

    A basic human right

    In her passionate speech at the Housing for All conference Leilani Farha emphasized that gold is a commodity, but housing not – it is a human right. Seizmic, paradigmatic shift is needed, as the present problems are not only market failures, but so is the lack of viewing housing as a human right. All levels of government have to show up and adopt comprehensive, human rights based housing policies. Housing must be based on laws protecting basic rights, and strategies must be based on the rights of people. She announced the establishment of a new movement: SHIFT, which already has 25 signatory cities, including Barcelona, Paris, Amsterdam (NL), Seoul (KR).

    Housing is a human right which should not be sold to the highest bidder.

    Progress in the EU on housing

    Compared to the situation a decade ago, there is some progress in the handling of housing in the European Union. Within the EU Governance (European Semester, Macroeconomic conditionality, Reform Support Instrument, Rule of Law) housing is not considered exclusively from a competition policy perspective, but also as a matter of the Rule of Law in which basic human rights are slowly gaining some importance. There is a chance that fundamental rights will become one of the horizontal enabling conditions in the post-2020 Cohesion Policy regulation.

    On the other hand, according to reports of the Corporate Europe Observatory, there are discussions going on between the lobby groups of the sharing economy sectors (including Airbnb, Uber, etc.) and the Commission departments responsible for competition and free market regulation. The outcome of these negotiations is not yet known, but the EU approach may unilaterally support the forms of collaborative economy against the will of national and local governments to constrain the platforms in order to protect affordable housing. In practice, the regulations on Airbnb introduced in Barcelona, Amsterdam, Paris, Lisbon (PT), etc. might be annulled by the Commission as hurting the competition law.

    Housing is one of the sectors where the fight between the competition and solidarity aspects is the sharpest. There seems to be a long way to go to achieve socially justified limitations on international capital investors, i.e. regulating the financialisation of housing – without limiting private actors in their will to invest along non-speculative principles into social/affordable housing.


    "The housing paradox: more financing - less affordability?" - previous part of this article by Ivan Tosics can be read here.

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  • EU Urban Agenda: The challenge of “affordable housing” in Europe

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    In 2014 the Guardian published an article titled “Affordable housing does not mean what you think it means”. The article shows the limits of what can be considered “affordable housing” in London, where housing has become among the most worrisome and alarming issue of socio-economic inequality. The catchy and provoking title invites to reflect beyond the assumption that “affordable housing” means the same for all. What is affordable, under which criteria and for whom, which are the tricks and scams that can be hidden in catch-all policy terms? 

    Disadvantaged neighbourhoods

    Measured against context-sensitive indicators, affordability is usually calculated according to a ratio between household income and housing costs. Eurostat defined the housing cost overburden rate the percentage of the population living in households where the total housing costs ('net' of housing allowances) represent more than 40 % of disposable income (See EU statistics on income and living condition EU-SILC). This proportion is however very dependent on life cycles, employment, welfare support, escalating land prices, utilities, etc. (Paris, 2007).

    The typology of affordable housing is also quite broad. The UK government defines affordable housing as “social rented, affordable rented and intermediate housing, provided to eligible households whose needs are not met by the market”. Across Europe the term of “affordable housing” is also stretched as much as the akin definition of social housing, the latter responding to several connotations in different member states, which involve a variety of landlords such as local governments, NGO’s, housing associations and/or private housing companies (Whitehead and Scanlon, 2007).

    an alarming concern: a large share of European population especially low and lower income households, cannot access adequate housing

    As a matter of fact, the range of flexibilities affiliated with the concept of affordability allows to include different housing tenures and different measurements of household costs. These can turn “affordable housing” accessible only to certain groups already better off than the average e.g. certain models of shared ownership, promoted as affordable, but eventually only for upper middle class, rather than people on modest income (read more here). If affordable housing simply means that adequate housing should be accessible and affordable to all, -and primarily to those at risk of becoming or already less well off- its meaning remains not universally shared in public policies all over Europe. In common housing policies have to respond to an alarming concern: a large share of European population especially low and lower income households, cannot access adequate housing. Housing costs, utility prices, and number of homeless people are rising from London to Bucharest, together with a growing shortage of social housing. 

    Statistics on (not) affordable housing in Europe

    Extant analysis and research show that there is a fair amount of information on the state of housing in Europe (Scanlon, Fernández Arrigoitia and Whitehead 2015, Housing Europe 2015). However, the available statistics do not cover everything that would be useful to know about the lack of affordable housing and its consequences. Considering that the relation between income and the burden of housing costs is profoundly interlinked with poverties and material deprivation, and that poverty is growing in Europe (Europe 2020 indicators - poverty and social exclusion, EUROSTAT 2014), the data available for an international analysis at EU level on housing may bear inconsistencies and gaps (see Haffner, 2015 debating the limits of the pan-European dataset EU-SILC).

    One of the most up-to-date source is the statistics on Affordability of housing by Eurostat from November 2015 reporting for 2014 that 11.4 % share of the EU-28 population lived in households that spent 40% or more of their “equivalised disposable income” on housing [1]. The EU-28 average masks significant differences between Member States (DATA EUROSTAT Nov. 2015).

    The latest report by Housing Europe 2015 identifies major gaps and shortfalls summarised here in five points:

    • The highest share of population affected by housing overburden is to be found among tenants in the private sector, among which the most vulnerable, are people living alone, followed by single with dependent children;
    • Young population encounter more difficulties compared to past generation to start their housing path not only in southern Europe as it has been mostly the case until now;
    • The dropping of investments between 2008-2012 in providing social housing (except for France), despite the demand of households in waiting lists has increased;
    • High level of debts linked to housing, esp. in relation to mortgage indebtedness, triggering a high number of foreclosures  (e.g. Spain), not surprisingly with a high number of mortgages arrears among those on low income.
    • Despite the quality conditions of housing has generally improved in the last years, lack of basic amenities and overcrowding dwellings are a burden for some new MS and southern countries such Italy and Greece. These are related to issues of refurbishing poor housing following energy efficiency measures.

    In addition, there are new and old pressures in relation to the demographic changes and migrations trends that pushes toward new waves of reinvestments in many countries and in particular in large cities and metropolitan areas. What can Europe and European cities do?

    The EU urban agenda on Affordable housing

    The EU does not have an official mandate on housing and the provision of affordable and social housing is primarily a concern of national and local policies. However the Commission has an important role on housing through different means (Cziscke 2014), such as the regulation of competition policies related to the concept of “Services of General Economic Interest” (SGEI)[2] and controversial application of state aid rules in different contexts (Tasan-Kok, T., et al, 2013; Kadi and Musterd 2015), the regulatory provisions allowing to use European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) on energy efficiency improvement on housing for marginal groups, and more.

    Moreover, among the main goals of Horizon 2020, is the fight against poverty through social inclusion, which cannot avoid tackling housing. Beside that, housing is a major issues shared beyond the walls of the EU institutions: citizens, non profit organisations, social movements, independent activist groups demand a fairer commitment of public institutions, denouncing national and European policies directly or indirectly supporting the unregulated and unbridled housing markets and their dramatic consequences on people’s life.

    One opportunity to reinforce the debate on housing affordability within the EU Commission, has been offered by the frame of the EU Urban Agenda. Despite discussed for almost 20 years, the Urban Agenda is today a more explicit endeavour of the Commission (Geppert and Colini 2015).  Under the guidance of the Dutch Ministry during its EU presidency, 4 pilots partnerships including representatives from European, national and local authorities, international organisations and NGO’s have been established, covering 4 of the 11 themes currently selected as relevant for the EU Urban Agenda .[3] All pilots share the same task, namely to provide through an action plan concrete guidance in the topic covered. One of these topics is affordable housing, and some of the salient aspects under debate (not to be considered a shared outcome of the partnership at this stage) are:

    • The revision of the existing knowledge on affordable housing through: a) better data collection at EU level, b) the provision of coordinated information on knowledge resources, c) the coordination with organizations and institutions able to provide ad hoc public events, research and policy papers on concrete case studies from the policy practice.
    • The sharing of partners’ proposals around the opportunities for: a) revising of State Aid rules, and 
      the REFIT agenda[4] to tackle the barriers of investments on social housing[5]; b) considering a new definition of the SGEI narrow target group in social housing, based instead on housing needs and markets failure, c) study the match and mismatch between EU and national policies on housing also in relation to energy efficiency measures.
    • The better use of funding, considering that (European Funds for Strategic Investments) EFSI and other EU funds can be used on housing. Housing Europe reports that 77% of Operational Programmes (OP) allow investment in housing. But also the issues of combining public and private funding considering where the risks are and who will bear them, and the criteria for the allocation of public guarantees.

    The above mentioned points are only a handful of first hints of a problematic that needs to be further unpacked towards concrete proposals. The commitment of the partners is on a voluntarily basis, and all the partners are not confirmed.[6] Moreover, the pilot on affordable housing is at its first steps and due to the complexity of the theme, it is naturally interlinked with other pilots. Future steps are the participation of some members of the partnership to the Regional event of Habitat III  in Prague, a seminar on affordable housing organized by Eurocities in April and the Urban Agenda Pact of Amsterdam end of May. The work of the pilots is planned to go on for a period of 1 to 3 years, relating to a series of relevant EU urban policies and initiatives.

    Some conclusions

    There is much too much to say, on housing and its affordability in Europe. One or two points should be remembered. First that the condition of housing in Europe is at dare moment, and there is a need and responsibility from public institutions to counteract the spiral of speculation of real estate and housing sector in (re-)producing the issues of social inequalities. Second, that the major causes producing the lack of affordable and decent housing do not happen by nature, and are not incontrovertible. Aside from the perilous debate about the different models for providing and financing affordable housing solutions, the reasons for this crisis lies in series of factors that need to be interlinked. They include inefficient public and planning policies, regulations on housing investments and legislative measures not protecting enough the rights of the most vulnerable groups, inappropriate taxation systems on ownerships, weakened national welfare mechanisms and the deregulation of the rental markets. In addition particularly  important is the role of international finance with capital intense investments reducing bricks and mortar into financial assets. This is a gambling mechanism that involves banks, agencies, private companies, and public authorities creatively mastering new strategies for speculation on the housing sector (Aalbers 2008). 

    Europe can definitely do more on tackling these issues at macro and micro level, so can do cities. There are examples and experiments which can inspire other cities, as those participating in URBACT. They regard combined measures to control the staggering of house and land prices, imposing land value taxation, to promote rental regulation, to avoid wild privatization of large housing stocks, to prevent evictions while experimenting new forms of collective ownership (e.g. community land trust) et al. The State of Berlin introduced in 2015 a new national law called the mietpreisbremse or “rental price brake”, considered to be among the most innovative policy promoting rental regulation. The law has the purpose to hinder the staggering rental costs.  Berlin is the first German City enforcing the law, considering that Berlin has seen an unprecedented shrinkage of affordable rents in inner city areas with great differences between rents paid in old and new contracts. The law introduces a body that fixes a standard median rent per square meter for each city district, using figures based a biennial state census of rents. Landlords are barred from increasing rents by more than 10% above the local average. However, newly built properties and those that have undergone wholesale renovations are excluded from the rental cap. The law is also the results of intense citizens initiatives, and organisations campaigning for the recognition of housing rights in the city. It alone is not enough to solve the housing question, but can be seen as a step forward.

    The Pilot on Affordable housing promises to look for better knowledge, funding and regulation for innovative and more adequate housing solutions, consulting potential new partners on specific areas of interest and reaching out actors who are not directly involved yet.  The Urban Agenda is an important commitment for cities and Member States in Europe, and its legitimacy will be also publicly tested in relation to the democratic process of drafting it. So far, in this as much as the other European Urban agenda pilots, there is a glaring lack of voices from independent non-profit organisations, social movements and academic sector, which can bring valuable experience and critical knowledge to be harnessed in this context. By its part, URBACT has pluriennial experience in dealing with housing through dedicated networks  of cities and research such as HOUS-es (Management and Renewal of Large Housing Areas), SUITE (Optimization of a sustainable, and affordable supply of housing assuring social cohesion through social mix), HOPUS (Housing Praxis for Urban Sustainability ), CASH (cities action for sustainable housing), ReBLOCK (REviving high-rise Blocks for cohesive and green neighborhoods) and other initiatives sucha s the workstream “ Against divided cities” which touched upon the topic of housing.

    URBACT is strongly committed to contribute to the EU URBAN Agenda with knowledge, expertise on multistakehoder action planning and practices from cities involved in the programme.

    This article is part of a series that URBACT will publish in relation to the topics that are being debated within the EU Urban Agenda process. 


    Photo credits: Ivan Tosics, Re-Block network, Alex Proimos on Flickr (creative commons)  

    [1] Equivalised disposable income is the total income of a household, after tax and other deductions, that is available for spending or saving, divided by the number of household members converted into equalised adults. (EUROSTAT).

    [2] Services of general economic interest (SGEI) are economic activities that public authorities identify as being of particular importance to citizens and that would not be supplied (or would be supplied under different conditions) if there were no public intervention. Examples are transport networks, postal services and social services.

    [3] URBACT is partner of three of the pilots on “Migrants and refugees”, “Urban poverty” and “Affordable housing”.

    [4] REFIT is the European Commission's Regulatory Fitness and Performance programme. Action is taken to make EU law simpler and to reduce regulatory costs, thus contributing to a clear, stable and predictable regulatory framework supporting growth and jobs.

    [5]The issues on whether social and private housing providers have the same market access when constructing social housing have not been tackled yet

    [6]. Urban Areas: Riga (LV), Scottish Cities Alliance (UK), Vienna (AT); Member States Latvia, Luxemburg, The Netherlands, Slovakia, Slovenia, Others: EU COM (DG regio, DG energy, DG employment), AEDES, Eurocities, EIB, Housing Europe, URBACT, IUT.



    Aalbers, M.B., 2008. The financialization of home and the mortgage market crisis. competition & change12(2), pp.148-166.

    Czischke D., 2014, Social Housing and European Community Competition Law in Scanlon, K., Fernández Arrigoitia, M. and Whitehead, C.M., 2014. Social housing in Europe. John Wiley & Sons.

    Dullroy, J., 2016 “How Berlin is fending off property developers”, The Guardian , (accessed 19 March 2016)

    Geppert, A. and Colini, L., 2015. The EU Urban Agenda: Why, How and for Whom? Report from the Prague Roundtable at the AESOP Congress, 16 July 2015. disP-The Planning Review51(4), pp.93-96.

    Haffner, M.E., 2015. EU-SILC: Should We Make Do with What We Have?.Critical Housing Analysis, 2 (2) 2015.

    Kadi, J. and Musterd, S., 2015. Housing for the poor in a neo‐liberalising just city: Still affordable, but increasingly inaccessible. Tijdschrift voor economische en sociale geografie106(3), pp.246-262.

    Paris, C., 2007. International perspectives on planning and affordable housing. Housing Studies22(1), pp.1-9.

    Russel, R. 2016 “Berlin becomes first German city to make rent cap a reality” The Guardian (accessed 18 March 2016)

    Scanlon, K., Fernández Arrigoitia, M. and Whitehead, C.M., 2015. Social housing in Europe. European Policy Analysis, (17), pp.1-12.

    Scanlon, K., Fernández Arrigoitia, M. and Whitehead, C.M., 2014. Social housing in Europe. John Wiley & Sons

    Tasan-Kok, T., Groetelaers, D.A., Haffner, M.E., Van Der Heijden, H.M. and Korthals Altes, W.K., 2013. Providing cheap land for social housing: Breaching the state aid regulations of the single European market?. Regional Studies, 47(4), pp.628-642.

    Whitehead, C. and Scanlon, K.J., 2007. Social housing in Europe. London School of Economics and Political Science.

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    FIN-URB-ACT strives for more efficient local support structures for SMEs' development and innovative economies. The rationale is that such structures on local level - where financial instruments meet nonfinancial assistance - are basic prerequisites for fostering start-ups and business growth.

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