Addressing Homelessness, Housing and energy poverty in the European Recovery


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Most EU Member States have already submitted their national recovery and resilience plans to the European Commission where they set out their reform plans and public investment projects. The NextGeneration EU is the temporary European recovery package that will fund the European economic and structural reforms that are needed to address the crisis set off by the Covid 19 pandemic. The key instrument therein is the Recovery and Resilience Facility, making €672.5 billion available in loans and grants. To benefit from the support of the Facility, Member States have to implement their reforms and investments by 2026. The Recovery and Resilience plans (RRPs) of the different Member States can be found here.

Some Member States (Estonia, Malta, the Netherlands and Sweden) still need to submit their plans to the European Commission.

The main targets of the Next Generation EU are green investments and reforms (37%) and digital investments and reforms (20%). Nevertheless, all Member States also have some provisions to reform social policies, mostly referring to health and education. We had a look at the plans and examined their provisions or lack of them regarding homelessness, housing and energy poverty.


Homelessness

In Belgium, the region of Wallonia plans to renovate and create 800 reception and accommodation places for the homeless or badly housed.

Greece foresees an investment of 166 million€ for social integration, including investments for the social reintegration of the most vulnerable groups including homeless people. A social housing pilot programme is to be running in parallel in Athens and Thessaloniki.

Italy programs 0.45 Billion€ for temporary housing, housing for small groups of families, as well as integrated services to promote independence and social integration additional services such as health care, catering, work guidance, food distribution, etc. for people experiencing homelessness.

Poland will amend its legislation on financial support for the creation of dwellings for rent, protected dwellings, night shelters, hostels for the homeless, heating facilities and temporary accommodation.

Portugal plans to invest 186 Million€ in a national fund for urgent and temporary accommodation.

Spain will dedicate part of its recovery budget meant for supporting de-institutionalisation reforms to specifically target the homeless population.

All other RRPs do not mention homelessness explicitly.


Housing

Belgium’s RRP includes plans on investments in social housing and Wallonia and Flanders regional plans lay out detailed plans on the renovation of social housing buildings.

Bulgaria earmarks 21% of its RRF for social fairness mentioning access to adequate housing and energy efficiency specifically.

Croatia earmarks 787 million€ for post-earthquake reconstruction[RT1] [OF2] of housing.

Denmark provided that municipalities can demand 25% of social housing in new housing areas, which means that housing is being built that can be paid for by citizens with average and low incomes.

France plans to continue the housing reforms that were initiated in 2017 by proposing several reforms of public housing, as, for instance, the evolution of the zero-interest loan by investing overall 500 Million € for social housing.

In Germany, in the years 2020 to 2024 the Federal Government will continue to support the Länder in promoting social housing and affordable housing by making available 1 billion euros in programme funds.

Italy has set out a detailed plan for urban regeneration and social housing policies, worth 9.02 Billion€, of which 3.30 Billion€ will go to investment in urban regeneration projects, aimed at reducing situations of marginalisation and social deprivation, 2.45Billion€ for integrated urban plans, 0.27Billion€ for integrated urban plans to overcome illegal settlements to combat exploitation of workers in agriculture, 0.20Billion€ are for integrated urban plans coming from the EIB fund and finally, 2.80Billion€ are planned for an innovative housing quality programme.

For the renovation and construction of social and municipal rental houses, making high-quality housing available to the most vulnerable, Latvia plans to allocate 60 million € to local authorities.

In Lithuania, it is planned to develop social housing by increasing the integration of vulnerable people without setting earmarking of funds to this goal.

Through its Housing Pact 2.0, Luxembourg plans to fund two projects that will increase the supply of affordable and sustainable housing.

Portugal plans to support 26,000 families with decent housing with a support programme for Access to Housing worth 1211 Million€. Furthermore, it intends to reinforce the supply of supported housing in the Autonomous Region of Madeira (136 Million €), to improve housing conditions in the Autonomous Region of the Acores (60 Million€), to upgrade the public affordable housing stock (with a loan of 775 Million€) and to create more affordable student accommodation (with a loan of 375 Million€).

Romania’s RRP includes a programme to invest 250Million€ for social infrastructure and old people's homes.

Slovenia intends to improve the access to rental housing for socially disadvantaged and other marginalised groups. To that goal, 60 million€ of repayable funds will be allocated.

In Spain, the "Affordable Rental Housing Plan" included in the RRP seeks to provide a structural solution to the problem of a large and decent social housing stock, but also to involve the business sector in increasing the supply of affordable rental housing where there is publicly owned land on which to carry out such actions through public-private mechanisms.

Hungary aims to invest in building 600 new, and refurbishing 2500 existing social housing buildings.


Energy Poverty

Austria foresees a special fund to combat energy poverty (208,9 million€). Belgium focuses on the energy renovation of social housing in particular. Also, Bulgaria, Croatia and Czechia put announce to be wanting to alleviate energy poverty but without spelling out concrete investment plans on the topic.

By subsidising targeted renovation projects, Cyprus plans to tackle energy poverty in particular in households with disabled people. Denmark plans subsidies to support citizen with limited financing opportunities who wish to switch to a heat pump.

France sets out plans for energy renovation that are worth €6.7Billion of which €5.8Billion financed by the RRF. An important investment will go into the deep renovation of social housing, with an envisaged budget of €500M for the years 2021 and 2022.

To address energy poverty through renovations on residential buildings, Greece plans an investment of 1,231 Billion€. Italy programs energy efficiency and upgrading of buildings: 15.62 Billion€ of which 13,95 billion€ for energy efficiency and seismic upgrading of private and public residential buildings mentioning improving conditions of energy poverty as a core objective.

Spain mentions its National Strategy against Energy Poverty in its RRP.

Despite the clear target on investments protecting the climate, only a handful Member States prioritise addressing energy poverty therein.


Regrettably, measures to combat homelessness is mentioned in only few of the RRPs that have been submitted so far. On the other hand, many Member States lay out fairly detailed plans to improve housing conditions and access to social housing for the most vulnerable people. Also, combatting indecent housing situation and energy poverty is an important challenge for many. The Fit for 55 packages that will be published soon will force the Member States to act further on these issues.

It will be important that throughout the implementation of the plans Member States dedicate attention to the most vulnerable, including in the numerous investments into housing stock refurbishment and construction. The European Commission should evaluate the social impact of such investments to ensure that meeting the climate and social objectives do not exclude but reinforce each other.