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  • 2nd Chance

    The Intercultural cities programme (ICC) supports cities in reviewing their policies through an intercultural lens and developing comprehensive intercultural strategies to help them manage diversity positively and realise the diversity advantage.

    Amadora launches a Guide on the welcoming of migrants

    Blue Economy Forum

    BluAct Toolkit

    BluAct: The Documentary

    2ndChance on Facebook

    2ndChance on Twitter

    Timeline

    Kick-off meeting in June (Liverpool). Transnational meeting in October (Chemnitz).
    Transnational meetings in July (Gijon) and December (Brussels).
    Final event in April (Naples)

    Municipality of Athienou
    2, Archbishop Makarios III Ave.
    7600 Athienou Cyprus

    CONTACT US

    Municipality of Santiago de Compostela

    CONTACT US

    Municipality of Udine (Italy)

    CONTACT US

    For any enquires into Tech Revolution, email: DMC@Barnsley.gov.uk

    Keep following our social media channels as we develop Tech Revolution 2.0 as part of the second wave of URBACT ||| Programme. 

    Follow our Twitter: @Tech_RevEu
    Follow our Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/urbact-techrevolution/

    CONTACT US

    Coordinator

    ADDRESS

    Av. Movimento das Forças Armadas

    2700-595 Amadora

    Portugal 

    TELEPHONE

    +351 21 436 9000

    Ext. 1801

    CONTACT US

    City of Rome

    tamara.lucarelli@comune.roma.it

    Department of European Funds and Innovation

    Via Palazzo di Città, 1 - 10121 Turin (Italy)

     

    CONTACT US

    Câmara Municipal de Lisboa

    Departamento de Desenvolvimento Local

    Edifício Municipal, Campo Grande nº25, 6ºE | 1749 -099 Lisboa

    CONTACT US

    urbact.civicestate@gmail.com

    CONTACT US

    Laura González Méndez. Project coordinator.

    Gijón City Council

    CONTACT US

    Municipality of Piraeus

    CONTACT US

    City of Ljubljana

    Mestni trg 1

    1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia

    CONTACT US

    Project Coordinator Martin Neubert

    +49 371 355 7029

     

    CONTACT US

    Riga NGO House

    CONTACT US

    City of Antwarp
    Grote Markt 1 - 2000 Antwarpen

    Manchester City Council
    Manchester M2 5RT

    City of Rotterdam
    Coolsingel 40, 3011 AD Rotterdam

    City Council Bielefeld
    Bürger Service Center
    Phone +49 521 510

    CONTACT US

    City of Eindhoven
    Stadhuisplein 1, 5611 EM Eindhoven

    City of Loulé
    Praça da República, 8104-001 Loulé
    Phone +351 289 400 600

    CONTACT US

    City of Igualada
    Plaça de l'Ajuntament, 1, 08700 Igualada, Barcelona

    CONTACT US

    City of Ghent
    Stad Gent
    Botermarkt 1
    9000 Gent

    City of Genoa
    Via di Francia, 1 - XI floor. 16149 Genova

    CONTACT US

    City of San Donà di Piave Piazza Indipendenza, 13 – 30027

    CONTACT US

    City of Naples
    Urban Planning Department 
    Phone +39 081 7958932 - 34 - 17 

    CONTACT US

    The challenge of this Action Planning network is the activation of vacant buildings and building complexes for a sustainable urban development by self-organised groups. In many European cities smaller and larger derelict sites, underused premises, so called “voids” can be found in or near the city centre. These sites often have a negative impact on their surroundings, nevertheless they present a great opportunity: they can be used to complete a compact settlement structure, to provide space for needed functions in the city.

    Revitalisation of the sleeping giants
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  • ALT/BAU

    ALT/BAU on Twitter: https://twitter.com/ALT_BAU
    The YouTube channel of the ALT/BAU network: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC9cnqLy5ZLM9vBTrve1bvFw

    Timeline

    Phase 1 Kick-off meeting, Rybnik (PL). Phase 1 Final Meeting, Chemnitz (DE).
    Phase 2: Kick-off meeting, Seraing (BE), 1st Transnational Thematic Meeting, Vilafranca del Penedès (ES), 2nd Transnational Thematic Meeting, Riga (LV), 3rd Transsnational Thematic Meeting, Constanta (RO)
    Phase 2 Mid-Term Review Meeting, Chemnitz (DE)
    Phase 2 Network Final Meeting, Turin (IT)
    Capacity Building Webinar "How to Reactivate vacant residential Buildings"

    Municipality of Athienou
    2, Archbishop Makarios III Ave.
    7600 Athienou Cyprus

    CONTACT US

    Municipality of Santiago de Compostela

    CONTACT US

    Municipality of Udine (Italy)

    CONTACT US

    For any enquires into Tech Revolution, email: DMC@Barnsley.gov.uk

    Keep following our social media channels as we develop Tech Revolution 2.0 as part of the second wave of URBACT ||| Programme. 

    Follow our Twitter: @Tech_RevEu
    Follow our Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/urbact-techrevolution/

    CONTACT US

    Coordinator

    ADDRESS

    Av. Movimento das Forças Armadas

    2700-595 Amadora

    Portugal 

    TELEPHONE

    +351 21 436 9000

    Ext. 1801

    CONTACT US

    City of Rome

    tamara.lucarelli@comune.roma.it

    Department of European Funds and Innovation

    Via Palazzo di Città, 1 - 10121 Turin (Italy)

     

    CONTACT US

    Câmara Municipal de Lisboa

    Departamento de Desenvolvimento Local

    Edifício Municipal, Campo Grande nº25, 6ºE | 1749 -099 Lisboa

    CONTACT US

    urbact.civicestate@gmail.com

    CONTACT US

    Laura González Méndez. Project coordinator.

    Gijón City Council

    CONTACT US

    Municipality of Piraeus

    CONTACT US

    City of Ljubljana

    Mestni trg 1

    1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia

    CONTACT US

    Project Coordinator Martin Neubert

    +49 371 355 7029

     

    CONTACT US

    The ALT/BAU Transfer Network focuses on alternative strategies in central and historic districts of European cities to activate unused and decaying housing stock resulting from demographic, economic and social change. Based on the experiences from Chemnitz’ URBACT Good Practice “Housing Agency for Shrinking Cities” (Agentur StadtWohnen Chemnitz), the network transfers experiences that proved successful to proactively connect administrations, owners, investors and users to initiate sustainable and resource saving development.

    Alternative Building Activation Units
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  • Nine solutions for more vibrant, productive cities

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    15/11/2022

    These local actions for community participation and productivity are inspiring cities across the EU. Could they work in yours too?

    Articles
    Education

    The New Leipzig Charter highlights three forms of the transformative city which can be harnessed in Europe to enhance people’s quality of life: the Just City, the Green City and the Productive City.

    URBACT’s latest publication is packed with sustainable solutions to address these three dimensions – all tried, tested and transferred between EU cities, with adaptations for each local context.

    To give a taste of the stories told in ‘Good Practice Transfer: Why not in my City?’, here are nine examples of local actions for Productive Cities. We hope towns and cities of all sizes will be inspired to ‘Understand, Adapt and Re-use’ participative solutions like this – from education and entrepreneurship to efficient governance and better use of urban spaces – improving everyday life for residents, and supporting a just transition to a green economy.

     

    1. Give citizens a card for local services

    To simplify everyday life in Aveiro (PT), the municipality got together with stakeholders to launch a card that will give citizens easy access to public services such as the library, museum, buses and shared bikes, as well as improved online and front desk support. A first step was to issue a student card to access school services across the city, from stationery and meals, to school trips. The idea is to promote a smarter, more open, resilient and inclusive society. Aveiro and four other URBACT partner cities are introducing their local versions of ‘CARD4ALL’ based on good practice from Gijón, a Spanish city that has provided citizen cards for nearly 20 years.

     

    2. Put residents’ wellbeing at the heart of urban regeneration

    In a project to bring an old playing field back into use, Birmingham (UK) gave local people the power to drive improvements themselves, thanks to a Community Economic Development Planning model, mirroring successful approaches already used in Łódź (PL). Building on this positive start, residents went on to co-produce an alternative Community-Led Master Plan for the wider area — where all council plans had previously been opposed. Council-appointed community ‘ambassadors’ now work with local residents, businesses, service providers and volunteers with a direct stake in the area’s economic health. And the approach is being rolled out across other areas of the city. Birmingham is one of six cities to learn from Łódź’ collaborative model as part of the URBAN REGENERATION MIX network.

     

    3. Create a digital business hub with a local twist 

    The Greek city of Piraeus founded a new ‘Blue Lab’ near its harbour — the first Blue Economy Innovation Centre in Greece. Equipped with state-of-the-art technology, Blue Lab welcomes students and entrepreneurs, providing business mentoring, tech and entrepreneurship training. It has boosted cooperation with businesses and schools, and sparked an array of prototype technology solutions. Piraeus’ further plans now include a new larger co-working space, training facilities to upskill the workforce, and investment in more advanced technologies. Piraeus is one of six URBACT Tech Revolution network partner cities to set up their own start-up support schemes based on the Digital Media Centre in Barnsley (UK), an URBACT-listed Good Practice that has become a successful hub for local creative and digital business.

     

    4. Build local partnerships around education

    By involving parents, school staff, local clubs and council departments in ‘Educational Innovation Networks’ (EIN), the city of Halmstad (SE) is boosting local connections and sparking improvements in education. Thanks to the URBACT ON BOARD network, Halmstad learnt from Viladecans (ES) who originally formed an EIN to improve education as part of a drive to reverse rising unemployment and declining growth. Halmstad adopted new ideas, including ‘Positive Mindset and Emotions’ for better learning and methods for improving pupil participation. Communication within the municipality also improved thanks to cross-departmental clusters focusing on: Care and Support; Education and Learning; Growth and Attractiveness; and Infrastructure.

     

    5. Open a ‘living room’ for local clubs and residents

    Idrija (SI) transformed an empty shop into a ‘living room’ for the town, with free activities run by, and for, local associations and inhabitants. City administrators, social services and economic departments, local clubs and active citizens, are all involved in the project, as well as the regional development agency, library and retirement home. As a result, the site has become a meeting place open to all, with events focusing on topics as diverse as housing refurbishment, chess, and knitting. It also hosts a municipality-supported free transport service for elderly people and a book corner run by the local library. Idrija’s solution was modelled on the ‘Stellwerk’ NGO platform launched in Altena (DE) as a solution to help manage the town’s long-term decline.

     

    6. Turn unused buildings into homes

    Chemnitz’s (DE) ‘Housing Agency for Shrinking Cities’ helps transform empty buildings into valuable housing while reducing speculation, channeling grant money, and cutting future costs for both the owners of decaying buildings and the municipality. Initiated and funded by the city authorities, the project is carried out in the public interest by a long-standing private partner. This model inspired Vilafranca del Penedès (ES), partner in the URBACT ALT/BAU network, to review its housing policies and look for private partners with the technical capacity and financial solvency to help the city recover abandoned housing units. As a result, Vilafranca has signed an agreement with a social foundation whose main objective is to identify, obtain and rehabilitate low-priced rental housing in collaboration with job agencies.

     

    7. Launch a blue entrepreneurship competition (for cities near water!) 

    The port city of Mataró (ES) is boosting local entrepreneurship and jobs in the maritime economy – inspired by a BlueGrowth initiative in Piraeus (EL). Mataró encouraged diverse public and private stakeholders to get involved, including the City Promotion team, regional ‘Barcelona Nautic Cluster’, local port authority, and a technology park that hosts the University and a business incubator. The resulting Mataró Blue Growth Entrepreneurship competition provides cash prizes, mentoring and access to a business accelerator programme. So far winning projects include a boat repair franchise, a boat propulsion system, and an app linking up superyachts with relevant services.

     

    8. Help city employees become innovators

    When Turin (IT) teamed up with private sponsors to launch a competition inviting 10 000 municipal staff to submit innovative ideas for improving the administration's performance, winning proposals included solutions for improving community participation, smart procurement, and lighting in public buildings. This inspired Rotterdam (NL) and five other cities in the URBACT Innovato-R network to draw on Turin’s experience to boost innovation and process improvement in their own cities. As a result, Rotterdam took a fresh approach with its existing innovation network of over 1 800 civil servants and 500 external stakeholders, strengthening links with businesses and academics, introducing new online ‘inspiration sessions’, and co-designing a new innovation platform.

     

    9. Harness the power of public spending 

    Koszalin (PL) analysed the city’s procurement spending and is using the resulting evidence to shape public procurement practices in order to benefit the local economy, while taking into account social and environmental factors. To do so, they used a spend analysis tool that was originally developed by Preston (UK) and transferred to six EU cities via the URBACT Making Spend Matter network. Koszalin also started working more closely with key ‘anchor institutions’ in the city, such as the hospital and university, exploring how much they spend, and where that money goes geographically. Meanwhile, they improved support for local SME participation in public procurement.

     

    Find out more about these and many more sustainable city solutions – in the new URBACT publication ‘Good Practice Transfer: Why not in my City?’.

    Visit the Good Practice database for more inspiration.

     

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  • Ο Σεισμός της Κροατίας: Οι πόλεις του URBACT συμπαραστέκονται στην κατεστραμμένη πόλη Πετρίνια (Petrinja)

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    15/11/2022

    Μάθετε πώς οι πρώην πόλεις-εταίροι του URBACT υποστηρίζουν την πόλη Πετρίνια (Petrinja) σε αυτή τη δύσκολη στιγμή.

    Articles

    Από τότε που η κεντρική κροατική πόλη της Πετρίνια καταστράφηκε από μια σειρά ισχυρών σεισμών τον Δεκέμβριο του 2020, οι πόλεις -εταίροι από το δίκτυο του URBACT, CityCentreDoctor (2016-2018), ανταποκρίθηκαν γρήγορα παρέχοντας επείγουσα βοήθεια - περισσότερα από δύο χρόνια μετά από την συνεργασία τους για την αναζωογόνηση των κέντρων των πόλεων τους.

    «Το URBACT δημιούργησε προσωπικές σχέσεις μεταξύ ανθρώπων από διαφορετικές πόλεις και δημιούργησε ένα ζωντανό δίκτυο που έφερε ζωτική υποστήριξη σε αυτήν τη δύσκολη στιγμή», δήλωσε η κάτοικος της Πετρίνια, Nina Ficur Feenan, η οποία βοηθά στις επικοινωνίες μεταξύ της πόλης της και των πόλεων-εταίρων του URBACT. «Μια τέτοια αλληλεγγύη είναι ένα έντονο φως κατά τη διάρκεια μιας πολύ σκοτεινής κρίσης».

     «Ο σεισμός μεγέθους 6,4 Ρίχτερ στις 29 Δεκεμβρίου 2020 μας ταρακούνησε κυριολεκτικά από τα θεμέλιά μας», δήλωσε η Νίνα. «Επτά άτομα έχασαν τη ζωή τους εκείνη την ημέρα και ένας εργαζόμενος διάσωσης πέθανε επίσης αργότερα. Χιλιάδες έχασαν τα σπίτια τους. Η πόλη δεν υπάρχει πια. Το νοσοκομείο, οι Πρώτες Βοήθειες, τα σχολεία, τα καταστήματα, οι τράπεζες, τα κομμωτήρια, τα ανθοπωλεία, οι καφετέριες, τα εστιατόρια, η αγορά, τα μουσεία, ο κινηματογράφος, οι μπουτίκ, τα αρτοποιεία, τα κρεοπωλεία ... όλα έχουν χαθεί.»

    «Όλα όσα συνιστούν μια πόλη έχουν φύγει. Είναι δύσκολο να αντιληφθούμε αυτό το επίπεδο καταστροφής.»

    https://urbact.eu/sites/default/files/media/petrinja-main-square.jpeg

    Η κεντρική πλατεία της Πετρίνια  μετά τον σεισμό το Δεκέμβριο του 2020.

    Αλληλεγγύη από τις μικρές πόλεις

    Παρά την κρίση του COVID-19, οι πρώην εταίροι του δικτύου της Πετρίνια - όλες μικρές πόλεις με περίπου το ίδιο μέγεθος - αντέδρασαν γρήγορα με αλληλεγγύη, πρακτική υποστήριξη και κεφάλαια. «Έχουν μία σχέση με την Πετρίνια και έχουν περπατήσει στους δρόμους μας που έχουν καταστραφεί από τους σεισμούς και μπορούν, ίσως, να κατανοήσουν καλύτερα την κατάσταση στην οποία βρισκόμαστε», δήλωσε η Νίνα.

    Στην ιρλανδική πόλη Νάας (Naas), ο δήμαρχος Fintan Brett άκουσε για πρώτη φορά για το σεισμό στην ομάδα του δικτύου CityCentreDoctor στην εφαρμογή WhatsApp, όπου οι 10 πόλεις-εταίροι εξακολουθούν να μοιράζονται νέα, ιδέες και ενθάρρυνση για βελτιώσεις στο κέντρο της πόλης τους. Αποφάσισε να αναλάβει δράση. "Τι κάνουμε; Απλά τους κοιτάζουμε; Ή κάνουμε κάτι; "

    Με την υποστήριξη της «ομάδας της πόλης Νάας - συνέχεια της Τοπικής Ομάδας URBACT που δημιουργήθηκε κατά τη διάρκεια του δικτύου URBACT - ο Fintan συνεργάστηκε στενά με την Majella O'Keeffe της Ομάδας Πρόσβασης Naas για να κάνει έκκληση  για τη συγκέντρωση κεφαλαίων για το δημοτικό συμβούλιο της Πετρίνια. Οι δωρητές περιλαμβάνουν τον ιρλανδό πρέσβη Ruaidhri Dowling, ο οποίος υποστηρίζει τις προσπάθειες στην Κροατία. Πήγαν επίσης ένα βήμα παρακάτω, κινητοποιώντας εκατοντάδες κατοίκους και επιχειρήσεις της Νάας για να δωρίσουν τρόφιμα, ζεστά ρούχα, δομικά υλικά και άλλα αντικείμενα που ζήτησε η Πετρίνια, συμπεριλαμβανομένων αγαθών για άτομα με αναπηρία. Με διοικητική μέριμνα από το δημοτικό συμβούλιο, οι εθελοντές τα έβαλαν σε ένα εμπορευματοκιβώτιο για αποστολή.

    https://urbact.eu/sites/default/files/media/petrinja-mayor-fintan-brett-majella-okeeffe.jpg

    Ο Paul Kennedy, εθελοντής τοπικός οδηγός φορτηγού μετέφερε τα αγαθά που έγιναν δωρεά στην Κροατία την τελευταία εβδομάδα του Ιανουαρίου.

    Ο Daniele Terzariol, αναπληρωτής δήμαρχος της Σαν Ντόνια ντι Πιάβε (San Donà di Piave), της ιταλικής πόλης που ηγήθηκε του δικτύου CityCentreDoctor, ανταποκρίθηκε  επίσης γρήγορα στην ειδοποίηση του WhatsApp. Με τη βοήθεια  από το Ιταλικό Εθνικό Σημείο Επαφής URBACT, ξεκίνησε μια έκκληση συγκέντρωσης χρημάτων σε όλες τις ιταλικές πόλεις που συμμετέχουν σε δίκτυα του URBACT, νυν και πρώην, ενθαρρύνοντάς τες να στείλουν χρήματα απευθείας στον Δήμο της Πετρίνια. Ο δήμος του επίσης αποφάσισε να κάνει μια δωρεά, όπως, και οι τοπικοί εταίροι του URBACT στην ολλανδική πόλη Χέρλεν (Heerlen). Εν τω μεταξύ, το Ράντλιν (Radlin) - μια πολωνική πόλη με πληθυσμό κάτω των 20.000 ατόμων - έστειλε επίσης μια αποστολή με διάφορα αγαθά.

    Ο Daniele βλέπει την Πέτρινια ως «αδελφή πόλη» που «χρειάζεται την υποστήριξη όλων μας για να γίνει η ανασυγκρότηση και η υποστήριξη των πολιτών όσο το δυνατόν γρηγορότερα». Όπως ανέφερε: «Ο σεισμός που έπληξε την Πετρίνια προκάλεσε την καταστροφή του κέντρου της πόλης και των γειτονικών χωριών: ως συνάδελφοι, φίλοι και συνεργάτες δεν μπορούμε να καθόμαστε αδρανείς χωρίς να υποστηρίζουμε ενεργά τους ανθρώπους που ζουν σε αυτά τα μέρη».

     

    Το URBACT χτίζει θετικές, ανθεκτικές στο χρόνο, σχέσεις

    Αυτή η θετική ανταπόκριση σε μια περίοδο κρίσης είναι ένα μόνο παράδειγμα του πώς οι πόλεις του URBACT σε όλη την Ευρώπη διατηρούν συχνά στενούς δεσμούς πέρα από την ολοκλήρωση των δικτύων τους. Ο Wessel Badenhorst, εμπειρογνώμονας του δικτύου URBACT, CityCentreDoctor, αποδίδει αυτήν τη διαρκή αλληλεγγύη στον τρόπο που το URBACT καθοδηγεί τις πόλεις να συνεργάζονται μέσω μιας εντατικής διετούς διαδικασίας, δίνοντας παράλληλα την ευελιξία για την ανάπτυξη σημαντικών προσωπικών επαφών. Όπως είπε: «Αυτή η  κρίση που προκλήθηκε από το σεισμό, είναι ένα παράδειγμα του πώς μπορεί να αποκτηθεί η ανθεκτικότητα από το να είσαι μέλος ενός δικτύου που χρειάστηκε δύο χρόνια εντατικής ανάπτυξης».

     «Σήμερα είμαστε ακόμα όλοι φίλοι και είμαστε χαρούμενοι που μπορούμε να διατηρήσουμε τις σχέσεις μας δυνατές και ζωτικές», δήλωσε ο Daniele. Και συνεχίζει: «Τα δίκτυα URBACT και όλα τα ευρωπαϊκά έργα βασίζονται στις αξίες της αλληλεγγύης και των δεσμών που αναπτύσσονται και αυξάνουν την αμοιβαία γνώση βασισμένα σε κοινές ρίζες».

    Κατεστραμμένη από τον πόλεμο στη δεκαετία του 1990, καθώς η Πετρίνια ξεκινά έναν αγώνα για να ανοικοδομηθεί άλλη μία φορά, η Nina Ficur Feenan λέει: «Εκτιμούμε όλη τη βοήθεια και την υποστήριξη που μπορούμε να λάβουμε από τους φίλους και τους συνεργάτες μας, καθώς και από ξένους και φίλους που δεν έχουμε συναντήσει ακόμα.»

    Ενδιαφέρεστε να υποστηρίξετε απευθείας την Πετρίνια; Βρείτε περισσότερες λεπτομέρειες σχετικά με τον τρόπο που μπορείτε να προσφέρετε στον επίσημο ιστότοπο της πόλης.

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  • Cities engaging in the right to housing

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    15/11/2022

    Urban Innovative Actions (UIA) and URBACT are joining forces on housing!

    News
    Housing

    Throughout 2020, UIA and URBACT have explored how cities can design housing policies and practical solutions to implement the right to housing.

     

    We have collected stories and concrete examples from European cities already implementing the right to housing that others can take inspiration from.

    Three questions were leading this work:

    • What are the most innovative practices at city level concretely delivering the right to housing?
    • What can cities do to ensure that everyone – particularly the most disadvantaged groups - have access to safe, adequate and affordable housing?
    • How can the EU and member States create an enabling environment for cities to innovate?

    The ultimate goal is to push the agenda on the right to housing EU wide and to further enrich the work done by the EU Urban Agenda.

    The launch of the joint initiative happended during the Cities Forum on 31 January 2020. Experimenting new housing models and governance structures, designing strategies for those locked out of the housing market, and implementing anti-speculation measures were some of the main themes arising from the discussions regarding the role of municipalities.

    Webinar series

     

    A series of webinars and more digital outputs were delivered on the following themes:

    Themes

    Save-the-date for our webinars

    Community-led practices: cooperative, co-housing and CLT practices

    24 April 2020

    No one left behind: addressing specific issues of accessibility to adequate housing by vulnerable groups

    26 June 2020

    Fair finance : municipal strategies protecting housing from speculation

    19 November 2020

    An additional session was organised during the European Week on How to implement the Right to Housing in Covid times.

    Beyond the cities working with UIA and URBACT on this topic, the success of this knowledge activity relies on the contribution of key stakeholders representing housing practitioners, administrations, EU wide organisations, academia and civil society initiatives. 

    To receive more information and get involved, click here.

     

    More activities are planned for 2021. Videos, podcasts and more inspiring content will be available through a new platform soon to be launched.

     

    If you have any questions, you can contact:

    Amélie Cousin, a.cousin@uia-initiative.eu
    Alice Fauvel, a.fauvel@urbact.eu

     

    Interested in the topic? Click here to read the article written by Laura Colini, Programme Expert coordinating the joint activity!

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  • 4 ways cities are breathing life back into empty spaces

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    15/11/2022

    URBACT’s new online resource Remaking the city presents a selection of space-related city solutions: remakingthecity.urbact.eu

     

    Cities across Europe are looking for ways to make better use of their empty buildings and spaces. Many have found simple, innovative approaches to bring people, businesses, and variety back into unused office buildings, former industrial sites, and mono-functional districts.

    Articles
    Abandoned Spaces

    URBACT’s new online resource ‘Remaking the city’ presents a selection of such space-related city solutions. Cases can be found depending on their stage in the urban planning process, and by type of problem: empty or underused buildings; underused areas; rundown segregated areas; mono-functional areas; and unsustainable areas.

    Urban expert Ivan Tosics set up the site together with Nils Scheffler from the URBACT 2nd Chance network, François Jégou from the URBACT REFILL network and Maarten van Tuilj from the URBACT sub>urban network. Here, Ivan shares four ways cities are connecting better with residents and other stakeholders to breathe life back into neglected buildings and spaces, one step at a time:

    1. Organise cultural activities to put vacant land back on the map

    The harbour area of Caen (FR) became a no-go area after the shipyard closed. A first step towards redevelopment was ‘territorial marketing’ to attract people back – at least to safe parts of the site. The city set up artistic and cultural events, such as drawing walks, bike rides, canoeing tours and guided site visits. Thanks to growing popular interest, temporary uses then sprung up in former industrial buildings.

    2. Create an agency to help start-ups and families move into unused buildings

    In Bremen (DE), the municipality contracted an NGO to act as an intermediary agency connecting owners of empty properties with entrepreneurs and other people who could use the space. The agency now initiates and supports temporary use projects city-wide, helping local business, developing deprived neighbourhoods, and cutting running costs.

    Chemnitz (DE) created a public consulting agency to connect owners of historic apartment buildings with investors to provide affordable homes and workspaces. Grants are channelled to buildings that need it most, and contracts signed with new owners prevent speculation.

    3. Support NGOs matching temporary cultural projects with empty properties

    In Riga (LV), while many hundreds of buildings were left empty and uncared-for after the 2008 financial crisis, the cultural sector was booming and needed space. There were just a few local temporary use projects, unknown to most property owners. But, Free Riga activists worked increasingly with the municipality – and the Free Riga NGO emerged as a go-between organisation, scouting cultural projects to match up with vacant spaces offered by public and private owners.

    4. Bring students in to renovate social housing – and learn new skills

    Porto (PT), launched a summer school for architecture, design and construction students to refurbish homes, cultural centres and public spaces. The educational programme combines the theory of sustainable architecture with hands-on construction work. One summer, 40 international students refurbished a large property whose owner couldn’t afford renovation work – providing new, affordable family housing. Close cooperation between the public administration and social services was vital before, during and after the renovations, as well as a non-speculative contract with the owner.

    Visit Remaking the city website and watch Ivan Tosics' interview about the project.

    The show must go on

    Do you know an interesting example of a European city improving the use of empty spaces or abandoned properties? URBACT is looking for contributions! The idea is to expand Remaking the city and inspire urban practitioners to make changes for better cities. Contribute to Remaking the city now!

    More on Culture and Heritage on URBACT Website: https://urbact.eu/culture-heritage

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  • Give unused residential buildings a second chance!

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    15/11/2022

    Haven't you ever experienced this: You are in a city with beautiful old buildings and many of them are empty and dilapidated? And you ask why?

    Many cities in Europe are facing this problem: vacant residential buildings (even in growing housing markets), which start to deteriorate and lose their function, even in inner city locations. This often is due to a shrinking population, suburbanisation processes or legal issues. Often older, outdated buildings are affected, which at the same time are important for the inner urban structure, the cityscape and identity of the city.

    Articles
    Abandoned Spaces

    Reasons are manifold for the neglect and vacancy of these buildings, among them difficult ownership situations such as unresolved ownership status, limited ability or willingness of owners to invest, multiple changes of ownership, speculation, bankruptcies of real estate developers, large communities of heirs, mortgage debt or ownerless properties.

    The neglected vacant buildings become increasingly a problem: Partly they constitute a public security hazard; they effected negatively the neighbouring properties; the demolition of the buildings threatens the inner urban density, the functioning traditional urban structure and the historic cityscape. This also reduces the identity-forming effect of the inner city for the citizens.

    However, such residential buildings, in particular with heritage values are increasingly seen as a positive quality, not only in their intrinsic qualities as spacious and valued places to live but also in terms of their potential for modern, accessible and affordable inner-city living and to provide space for needed functions in the city.

    Chemnitz’s solutions!

    Chemnitz (DE) has been facing this problem. More than 18 % of the housing stock had been vacant. It concerned in inner city locations in particular the buildings that had been built during the city’s boom years in the industrial era before World War I. The demand for modern and newly-constructed homes, the oversupply in the historic tenement sector and other reasons contributed to the severe neglect and disrepair of many of those old buildings. This in turn led to the high vacancy rate and even demolition of these buildings. The free real estate and financial markets had failed to give these buildings a second chance!

    But the City of Chemnitz reacted: In 2006 based on a research project for the cost-effective renovation of old buildings through user-owner cooperation in Chemnitz, the ‘Agentur StadtWohnen Chemnitz’ (CityLiving Agency Chemnitz) was found. The goal was in particular to coordinate relevant stakeholders and support alternative housing projects in order to enable the sustainable development of unused historic apartment buildings in need of repair.

    In fact, the ‘Housing agency’ is a consulting service (project) for interested owners of neglected and/or vacant properties, potential investors and users with an interest in common forms of living and creative ideas for the subsequent use of buildings. From the outset of the ‘Housing agency’, its task was to function as a coordination body, which connects owners, potential users, investors and local authorities and provides them with free-of-charge consulting services for the reactivation of the vacant apartment buildings in the extended inner city where the free real estate market had failed.

    The services are carried out by a local private urban development company, which received this task through a public tender by the city. The ‘Housing agency’ fulfils tasks that had not been foreseen within the city administration. At the same time through the private company (WGS mbh) additional know-how and work capacities are obtained.

    Given the fact that the City of Chemnitz usually does not directly get involved in the housing market, the privately run ‘Housing agency’ presented the possibility for the city administration to informally influence the development of buildings that are a priority for different reasons for the city.

    7 key activities

    To fulfil the task of the ‘Housing agency’ they concentrate on seven key activities:

    1. Identification of focus areas and buildings in need of investment
    2. Collecting relevant data of the buildings/ monitoring
    3. Contacting the owners of buildings
    4. Marketing the building
    5. Site visits with interested people
    6. Connecting owners and potential buyers
    7. Accompanying buyers to liaise with municipal departments and other relevant stakeholders

    Although the services are free of charge, the Housing agency “pays off” for the city as through the reuse and revitalisation of the buildings modernised living space is created, neighbourhoods upgraded, tax revenues increased and substitution measures by the city avoided.

    Over the past six years, the ‘Housing agency’ has become the central collector and distributer of information on vacant tenement buildings in the extended inner city of Chemnitz. It has helped, disseminated and connected in ways that neither public authorities nor private actors alone could have achieved – through continuing communication with official partners from different segments of urban government and the informal, pro-active approach of the owners, local initiatives and players in the real estate market.

    Thus, in June 2017, the ‘Agentur StadtWohnen Chemnitz’ was labelled as “URBACT Good Practice” under the title “Housing agency for shrinking cities”. The URBACT programme justified this as follows:

    Many cities face the problem of deteriorating built heritage with vacancies and functional loss. The ‘Housing agency’ as a public project carried out by a private company offers a flexible and proactive approach to connect owners, potential investors or users and public authorities for the revitalisation of those buildings. Positive effects are the activation of owners or the change of ownership and the channelling of public grants to places where they can be used most effectively”.

    This Good Practice represents therefore not only a topical improvement for cities which are suffering from inner-city vacancies, but also a good example of new forms of cooperation and intermediate structures between government bodies, civil society and business which can be transferred to a variety of contexts.

    The URBACT Transfer Network ALT/BAU

    Six cities in Europe (Constanta, Riga, Rybnik, Seraing, Turin and Vilafranca) have join the URBACT Transfer Network ALT/BAU, lead by the good-practice city of Chemnitz, to transfer and adapt the good-practice model of Chemnitz’ housing agency to their local context. For this, the city partners will develop and implement within 24 months Transfer Plans of the good-practice model to their city. The intention is to help reactivate empty residential buildings in need of repair, located in or close to the inner city. This by connecting and coordinating owners, potential investors, users and public authorities through innovative partnerships.

    So in 24 months to come at least 6 more cities in Europe will be ready to give unused residential buildings a second chance to:

    • increase the building stock for affordable housing and inner city living;
    • support a social mixture and integration of inhabitants,
    • prevent further degradation and loss of cultural heritage,
    • reduce the negative impact on the cityscape and neighbourhood by neglected buildings.

    ***

    Visit the network's page: ALT/BAU

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  • The housing agency for shrinking cities

    Germany
    Chemnitz

    Revitalising decaying historic apartment buildings by connecting owners, investors/users and public authorities

    Martin Neubert
    Project Manager at WGS mbH
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    • Adapted by the ALT/BAU Transfer Network

    Summary

    The City of Chemnitz has been affected in different ways by demographic and economic change in the past decades. Vacancies can be found to different extents all over the city and amount to more than 22,000 flats (14 % of the housing stock). Among the most severely affected are the tenement buildings from the industrial era which are mostly privately owned. 
    The Agentur StadtWohnen in Chemnitz (DE) offers solutions to the problem of decaying historic apartment buildings abandoned after the 90s. The Agency is a public project carried out by a private company that offers a flexible and proactive approach. By acting as a networking hub, the Agency connects owners, potential investors or users and public authorities for the revitalisation of the historic housing stock of the city. Positive effects are the activation of owners or the change of ownership and the channelling of public grants to places where they can be used most effectively. So far, more than 140 buildings were monitored, for 50 a change of ownership was organised and 40 are currently available for investment projects. 

    To further improve the activities of the Agency a survey has been carried out with previous and present owners who cooperated with the Agency. Further sources of improvement ideas are thematic workshops, peer-review sessions, using the outcomes of the ALT/BAU Transfer Network, especially from Transnational Exchange and Learning Activities.
     

    The solutions offered by the good practice

    Agentur StadtWohnen Chemnitz fills the gap between the different stakeholders that are relevant for the revitalisation of historic apartment buildings in Chemnitz’ wider inner city area. Being initiated and funded by the city’s public authorities, the project is carried out by a long-standing private partner and has the means to act in the public interest as defined by the public procedures and interests of the city. With the assignment to deal specifically with historic and often listed buildings that have been unused for the past decades and are in different states of disrepair, the project acts where the regular real estate market is limited. It takes on a pro-active approach to activate owners towards a development of their property, often through connecting them with potential investors and users that have the means and the know-how to find sustainable solutions. The approach can be broken down into six key topics/steps: 1. Setting up a body/institution responsible to support the reactivation of vacant/derelict buildings and flats 2. Inventory and monitoring of vacant/derelict buildings and flats 3. Publication and marketing of vacant/derelict buildings and flats 4. Contacting, activating and supporting owners 5. Identifying, contacting and supporting potential buyers and investors 6. Connecting and coordinating public and private stakeholders.

    Building on the sustainable and integrated approach

    The project helps to mitigate effects of urban processes that are unsustainable. By strengthening Chemnitz’ inner city through the concentration and support of developments in the existing central neighbourhoods, the urban structures are valorised. This way, the reuse of historic housing stock helps to save resources instead of promoting suburban sprawl. Dense and mixed-use urban structures reduce distances and encourage alternative means of transport. What is more, the successful outcomes of the project help to preserve the intrinsic qualities of those quarters and help to overcome the negative image of neighbourhoods such as the Sonnenberg. The provision with moderately priced and appropriately equipped housing for families, elderly people or marginalised population groups strengthens social coherence and reduces the ground for conflicts of different sorts.

    Based on a participatory approach

    The scope of the project is to activate owners, private and public stakeholders to save, restore and reanimate buildings. It can be described as a networking hub between persons, groups and authorities that have an interest in this goal. Starting and keeping communication going around the objects is the core of the project’s activities. The agency is the only instance that connects the threads from all different sides: • the relevant departments in the city government (e.g. urban planning, fund management, building control, preservation, finance and tax, public relations), • the different owner constellations (private owners or ownership groups of different sizes and local/national /international backgrounds, public housing company, unappropriated), • the potential investors and users (professional real estate developers, grass-roots housing initiatives), • additional stakeholders in the neighbourhoods and civil society.

    What difference has it made?

    The Agentur has become the central collector and distributor of information on the buildings through continuing communication with official partners from different segments of urban government and the informal, pro-active approach to the owners, local initiatives and players in the real estate market. While the city government has been able to achieve many of its goals, there is also room for improvement concerning the objectives, especially in light of a changing real estate market and migration patterns in the city and the dawning of gentrification processes known from other cities in Germany. Although Chemnitz has become interesting to investors and developers from outside the city, investments in the housing market or the field of rehabilitation of historic buildings and flats from local companies and citizens are still rare and the owner-occupier ratio is comparatively low. Thus, there is only limited involvement in the cultural and social aspects of housing and neighbourhood development. On the other hand, the share of local investors and users from Chemnitz is increased. Their investments in the rehabilitation of Chemnitz’s historic building stock has safeguarded important cultural heritage and attractive living space. Their engagement has promoted activities for the benefit of the neighbourhoods in a more sustainable way. From this it follows that the target of the agency should be reconsidered. In the context of a changing real estate market in Chemnitz, the agency should support investors from Chemnitz, self-users and housing projects as future owners and investors. To achieve that, improved public relations are needed to raise awareness and communicate the tasks, strategies and services of the agency to stakeholders (owners, investors, administration) and the public. This should generate a better understanding and cooperation among the stakeholders. In the future efforts will be taken to adapt consulting services to “new” target groups, e.g. collaborative forms of housing and sheltered/inclusive housing forms through social institutions. The activities of the consulting service will be extended by relevant basic information about available subsidy consultancy and administration. The targets of the future work of the agency (e.g. housing projects, empty plots, single flats etc.) will depend on the allocation financial resources, with reference to the corona-related austerity. More use of GIS use could improve the services of the agency and the management of buildings, plots and related services in the administration.

    Transferring the practice

    A strong demographic decline and thus numerous vacancies in the old neighbourhoods are typical for former industrial hubs and towns distant from the economic centres in their countries. The lack of communication between the public authorities, often unavailable or unable owners, and the very diverse group of potential investors and users, is a problem that is visible to different extents in almost any city. The ALT/BAU Transfer Network focused on alternative strategies in central and historic districts of European cities to activate unused and decaying housing stock resulting from demographic, economic and social change. Based on the experiences from Chemnitz’ URBACT Good Practice “Housing Agency for Shrinking Cities” (Agentur StadtWohnen Chemnitz), the network transferred experiences that proved successful to proactively connect administrations, owners, investors and users to initiate sustainable and resource saving development. Under the leadership of Chemnitz the following partner cities were involved in the ALT/BAU Transfer Network: Riga Latvia, Constanta Romania, Vilafranca del Penedes Spain, Turin Italy, Seraing Belgium, Rybnik Poland.

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