Combining housing renovation and affordability

8 March 2022

Eurocities calls for ending housing exclusion and costs increase and ensuring the right balance between energy efficiency transformation and affordability.

The renovation of buildings and the construction of low-carbon houses are here. However, climate ambitions must go hand in hand with affordability to ensure social inclusion. To combat this social urban challenge, Recovery and Resilience Fund and other financial instruments such as InvestEU should be available to local administrations. 

Last Monday in Paris, Eurocities, represented by Vienna, along with Housing Europe, the International Union of Tenants, the European Federation of National Organisations Working with the Homeless, Confrontations Europe, and the Council of European Municipalities and Regions presented a 10-point plan aimed at the Housing Ministers discussion yesterday (8 March) in Nice.  

The points solicit more long-term investment in social, cooperative and public housing, a just energy transition and inclusive Next-Generation neighbourhoods. A green transition that ignores these requirements will leave people behind and extend the current housing crisis.

Yesterday, Anni Sinnemäki, Chair of Eurocities Economic Development Forum and Deputy Mayor of Helsinki for Urban Development, discussed building renovation and circular construction initiatives. Helsinki pursues ambitious inclusion standards, reducing homelessness through the ‘Housing First’ method.

But Helsinki is also an environmentally determined city. “Helsinki’s target is to be carbon neutral by 2030, and a great part of achieving this goal is taking place in the built environment,” she said. The deputy mayor gave an insight into Helsinki’s energy efficiency requirements for construction, both for new buildings and for renovation works. She also presented the city’s roadmap for the circular and sharing economy, especially its targets concerning the reuse of construction materials.

“We welcome the French Presidency initiative to re-establish the ministerial meetings on housing. Investing in affordable and energy-efficient housing is crucial for achieving the European Green Deal’s objectives and ensuring the green transition takes place in a socially sustainable way, and nobody is left behind. We, cities, are ready to work with national governments and European institutions on affordable and green housing,” says Silvia Ganzerla, Eurocities Policy Director. 

“Housing is a human right. We must fight for it unitedly. Now that we go into a post COVID recovery, we must invest in affordable housing and the climate by renovating and ensuring that people have healthy homes,” said the Member of the European Parliament, Kim van Sparrentak, in an interview with Eurocities. 

Kim van Sparrentak was also the Rapporteur on ‘Access to decent and affordable housing for all’. “The housing crisis is seen first in cities, which are already doing a lot to combat it,” she said. 

Local governments should not be forgotten since they know how to accelerate the growth towards an inclusive post-carbon society and create a high quality of life for citizens.