On 15 August, European Parliament has published a study on the ‘Policies to
Ensure Access to Affordable Housing’. This study analyses the current situation
and key challenges with regard to housing affordability in the EU, as well as
policies to ensure access to affordable housing at national and EU levels.
The study is highly relevant for the cities, as it reflects on the current challenges and trends on affordable housing. The key findings:
1. There are substantial differences between EU Member States in terms of the proportion of the population spending more than 40% of their disposable income on housing.
2. In recent years, the position in terms of housing affordability has deteriorated, in particular among low-income owners and private renters.
3. In the absence of a single widely adopted definition of homelessness in the EU has made it difficult to assess the extent of homelessness across the EU countries
4. The key factors behind rising housing costs and the decreasing affordability of housing in Europe are:
- the so-called 'financialisation' of housing, which is generally defined as the transformation of housing into a financial asset or commodity.
- increasing dependence of housing on the general financial markets, especially the financial markets for mortgages.
- secondary property ownership is widely used in many EU Member States as an investment, to supplement absent or low second-tier pension arrangements.
- foreign investment increases local house prices and reduces the rate of home ownership in the area.
- the rise of collaborative economy platforms for short-term accommodation.
5. The trend has been that of decreasing public expenditure on supply-side housing measures and an increase of public expenditure on demand-side housing measures.
6. The recurring immovable property taxes (e.g. annual taxes on a certain value of property) have been an increasingly popular measure among EU Member States because they are one of the best instruments to address speculation in housing market, increase the supply of housing in the market, and decrease the share of vacant properties.
7. The current limitation of social housing to "disadvantaged citizens or socially less advantaged groups" under the current SGEI package restricts the provision of social and affordable housing to a very limited target group.
EUROCITIES’ work is reflected in the paper through: