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4 examples of solutions to address the housing crisis (workshop at the ISHF 2019)

On 6th June, 2019, the Housing Solutions Platform held a workshop at the 2d Edition of the International Social Housing Festival in Lyon. The Housing Solutions Platform presented 4 innovative projects aimed at answering housing needs in France. The workshop was held in English, which made it possible for the participants who came from other countries to listen and benefit from the experience of the speakers. The presentation of the solutions was followed by a discussion with representatives of the Platform's partners, Sarah Coupechoux from the Fondation Abbé Pierre, Bjorn Mallants from Housing Europe and Ruth Owen from FEANTSA, and two experts from Finland and Belgium, Juha Kaakinen, CEO of the Y-Foundation, and David Van Vooren, Policy officer at Wonen-Vlaanderen, both members of the Steering Committee of the 50 Out-of-the-Box Housing Solutions for the Locked Out.

The two first solutions both addressed the issue of vacancy and how cities try to tackle it. They were presented by Syamak Agha Babaei, from Strasbourg, and Martine Chanal Gabriel Sibille from Lyon.

Since May 2016, the Eurométropole de Strasbourg has put in place a local plan to fight vacant housing in the private park and allow modest and very modest households to be able to access the private dwellings.This system is based on the knowledge of the reasons for the vacancy (prior study), meeting and helping the owners of vacant dwellings and the mobilisation of tools such as rental intermediation and regulation of rents working together with the National Habitat Agency (ANAH). In two years, nearly 230 homes in the private park have been rented out and new strategies to improve and increase the number of remobilised dwellings are being developed. Strasbourg is now also President of the National Network of Local authorities fighting vacant housing (RNCLV), which was founded at the end of the year 2016, thanks to dynamism of the Eurometropolis and the growing importance of the fight against vacancy as a national concern. It currently involves 30 local authorities and partners.

In Lyon, the project L'Autre Soie (Home Silk Road) is a large renovation project conducted by the city to turn a former industrial site into an inclusive neighbourhood. In November 2016, the site welcomed 145 migrants from the dismantling of the Calais jungle. The programme combines social access, participatory housing, "housing first" appartments and social and solidarity housing and student residence for a total of 278 housing units"the project has resulted in hundreds of housing units. So far, 278 units have been built. There are plans for building additional units in the future including: 16/17 dwellings by Rhône Saône Habitat (RSH), 60 rental housing units for social purposes by EMH, 13 housing first units, and 15 solidarity housing units."

The two other projects are examples of private initiatives. The Action Tank Entreprise & Pauvreté (Action Tank Social & Business) is an initiative from large private companies. Guillaume Ginebre and Quiterie de Rorthays presented a tool enabling different stakeholders to apprehend the impact of their choices on the global cost of future apartments. They explained how, working together with a social housing provider and with potential future occupants, they could help them determine very precisely and reduce the target cost of a housing program. 30 levers of economy have been identified and, as an example, monthly costs of housing could be reduced by 70€ per apartment (-12%). This average 70€ reduction is achieved without reducing the apartments’ living space, which is often the only solution for poor households to find housing adapted to their budget.

Lazarus, which was presented by Sibylle de Malet, is a non-profit organisation which develops and facilitates cohousing between young professionals aged 25-35 and people who were homeless or from very precarious situations, without using any public funding. It is an example of projects developed by citizens in reaction to homelessness. The project exists in France since 2006 and has been developed in Spain (Madrid) and Belgium (Brussels).

These four projects were submitted to our !Call for Solutions. The publication of the most innovative #50HousingSolutions to address housing needs of the most vulnerable households will be released by the end of the year. Stay tuned...

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