On 3 and 4 May, members of the working group housing gathered in Vienna to
discuss inclusiveness of the housing market and the role of limited profit
housing associations in the provision of affordable housing. The meeting
explored their scale of activities and legal architecture in various cities.
Based on the example of Vienna, member of the municipal council Kurt Stürzenbecher, chair of the working group housing Susanne Bauer and Martin Orner from the limited profit housing association EBG, explained that these types of associations are limited liability companies and stock corporations organised as co-operatives. They can make a profit but it must be reinvested into affordable housing. Representing a broader social purpose, they also benefit from state support.
In the context of the broader debate about housing governance, Javier Burón from Barcelona reported on construction of new mode of governance including the Metropolitan Housing Company through public private partnership in Barcelona. Christian Bartok from the Mieterhilfe Wien, which provides legal advice to landlords and tenants in Vienna, stressed the role of tenant protection laws in occupation conditions on the private market. Lazaros Petromelidis, from Athens presented the city’s attempts to recreate a social housing system and Willem Gobeyn from Ghent discussed provision of modular dwellings.
The meeting revealed that limited profit housing associations not only cater to the most vulnerable, but also the middle class and play an important role in addressing market failures. It also showed that regulatory and policy setting, which influence the running of these ‘cooperations’, differ significantly from city to city. To be effective, limited profit housing associations need public funding, a stable administrative and legal framework, and broad political support with long-term investment in the provision of affordable housing.
Members of the working group also had an opportunity to visit urban renewal projects including the Wachauerhof housing estates, built in the 1920s, the Sonnwendviertel, a newly built, mixed tenure housing complex in the heart of Vienna and the Wohnzimmer Wien – a smart housing project.