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Please Endorse – European Manifesto to Lead the Way out of the Housing Crisis

The Irish Council for Social Housing (ICSH) is the national federation for non-profit housing associations (also knowns as approved housing bodies or AHBs), representing more than 270 member organisations that manage approximately 65,000 homes for families, older people, disabled people, households experiencing homelessness and middle-income households. ICSH members operate in every local authority area in the country and in hundreds of communities across Ireland.

The housing crisis we are experiencing in Ireland is not exclusive to us. Our European neighbours are also facing the same challenges, as we collectively struggle to reduce homelessness, deliver affordable housing and manage increasing construction and energy costs. All of these issues have been compounded by geopolitical events that are putting immense strain on Europe’s social cohesion. As stated prominently in the recent Housing Commission report, ‘housing is critical social and economic infrastructure that supports socially sustainable communities’. We must look to effective European wide solutions to creating a fair and sustainable housing system.

As a member of Housing Europe, the Irish Council for Social Housing (ICSH), along with 100 other public, cooperative and social housing providers, policymakers at European and local level, have outlined the following 15 points which we are asking European Election candidates to endorse ahead of the elections on Friday, 7th of June.

New Housing Model

  1. Support public, cooperative, social, and community-led housing as the backbone of national housing systems.
  2. Ensure that public debt and deficit rules adequately account at EU level for the positive long-term social return on investment from the sector.
  3. Adapt State Aid rules so they do not prevent Member States from addressing the housing crisis.
  4. Include housing exclusion indicators in the EU Semester, the biannual economic, fiscal, employment and social recommendations to Member States.
  5. Prevent short-term rental platforms’ impact on availability and affordability of housing through European legislation.
  6. Urgently address the impact of higher interest rates and construction costs, which are slowing the delivery of new social housing.
  7. Share effective models of inclusive housing systems within and beyond Europe as the new way forward.

HOW? Establish a new Task Force led by a European Commission Vice-President to embrace the new housing paradigm throughout EU policymaking.

Fair Energy Transition

  1. Beyond renovation, EU green policies should include low-carbon housing supply targets to meet growing demand.
  2. Simplify access to the 19 EU funding and financing streams currently available, attaching clear conditionality on social criteria. Ensure Ireland maximises the use of eligible EU programmes that complement the use of existing national programmes in areas of social and affordable housing, renovation/retrofit and skills training. Ensure the Irish EU managing authorities incorporate these into their priorities and implementation plans.
  3. Encourage district decarbonisation which addresses local needs for housing that is affordable, age-adapted, well-connected, and uses local resources.
  4. Broaden the approach to renovation and circularity to foster local supply chains, quality job creation, social enterprise, and biodiversity.
  5. Harness the potential of digital and tech advances for a fair energy transition.

HOW? Through a transformative fund that harmonises all existing tools, ear-marked annually for socially responsible renovations.

Tackle Housing Exclusion

  1. Secure access to decent affordable housing as the best way to prevent the growing homelessness and housing exclusion emergency.
  2. Encourage long-term national and local partnerships between housing providers, social services and local authorities to deal with prevailing support needs (e.g. migration, youth, elderly, family breakdown, cost of living).
  3. Support skills development with social service providers, local authorities and actors from the social and affordable housing sector.

HOW? Introduce housing exclusion as a core section of impact assessments for EU policies.

Read the full manifesto here.

Donal McManus, CEO, Irish Council for Social Housing
Chair – Housing Europe Economics, Finance & Internal Market Working Group