European Union Ministers responsible for Housing and Urban Development convened in Gijón, acknowledging the need for accessible and affordable housing amidst soaring prices and scarcity of housing. The Gijón Declaration on Housing and Urban Development by EU ministers highlights the importance of continuing work to guarantee access to decent, adequate and affordable housing for all in the European Union, respecting national competences.
Lack of accessible, affordable housing, cost-of-living crises, limited housing supply are some of the daily challenges citizens are faced with, in particular those in lower and middle-income households, young and elderly people, persons with disabilities, individuals in homelessness. An increasing number of people are allocating more than 40% of their income to pay for housing. Challenges in urban areas involve high demand and shortage of suitable and affordable housing, sustainable and energy-efficient housing, that is prepared for climate change and in alignment with the European Green Deal.
Thus, the Declaration proposes a comprehensive approach to address housing and urban development:
- National Urban Policies of the Urban Agenda for the EU: A collaborative approach among various levels of government (local, national, regional, European) for effective governance and policymaking.
- The Lack of Affordable Housing: Offering tailored housing or financial solutions to vulnerable groups and promoting affordable and social housing stock.
- Sustainable and Resilient Housing: Adapting housing to climate change from social, ecological and resilience perspective, in terms of energy efficiency, conservation, quality and functionality.
- Next Generation EU Funds Multiannual Financial Framework: Encouraging an effective use of financial support provided by the EU to address housing challenges and renovate existing housing stock. With this, the Ministers urge the European Commission to reinforce instruments complementing support schemes in the housing sector at all levels.
- Definition of Social Housing: The Ministers invite the Commission to assess the definition of social housing as a general economic interest service, and to enable the application of state aid in housing policies.
- Public-private Collaboration Models: Enhancing financing schemes for housing development.
- Sufficient Affordable Housing Stock: Implementing regulatory tools to manage housing supply, its availability and surrounding administrative procedures, in particular where short-term rentals have caused barriers, while promoting healthy and inclusive built environments.
- The New European Bauhaus: Applying the fundamental values of Bauhaus for quality of design, and architecture for sustainable and inclusive places, with benefits for civic pride and common good.
- Job Creation and Reactivation of Economy: Promoting the growth of residential construction sector and its modernization, digitalization, and sustainability.
- Research, Innovation, Digitalization and Industrialization: Acknowledging the transformative potential of high-quality architecture for societal wellbeing.
The Ministers express determination to foster inclusive, sustainable, and affordable housing solutions across urban and rural landscapes, promoting collaborative governance, with the principle of subsidiarity, and integrated life cycle approach. Finally, they call for an ecological transition including social measures and express their will to be ambitious in the responses to homelessness and human-rights-based solutions with personalized support.
Eurodiaconia strongly welcomes the determination of Member States and Presidency of the Council to make access to quality, affordable housing for vulnerable groups a policy priority at European level.