Renting is getting increasingly more expensive and risks becoming a luxury good. More and more people in Europe can hardly afford to rent a place to call their home. However, at the same time, rents are rising faster than earnings, which, for many makes the situation even worse. Therefore, AK EUROPE supports the European Citizens’ Initiative “Housing for All”, which was launched on 27 March 2019.
The issue of social und affordable housing has been left behind in the current political discourse, in particular also at European level. 82 million Europeans already are financially stretched because of their rent payments. They have to spend 40 percent and more of their disposable income on rent. The current Austrian country report by the EU Commission finds that in Austria property prices have increased significantly faster than incomes and that they have increased by more than 80 % since 2005. However, an affordable home is fundamental for a good life and for the social cohesion in Europe. In future, it should be regarded as part of public responsibility. The Initiative urges European legislators to improve the framework conditions for social and affordable housing.
Overview of the demands of the European Citizens’ Initiative:
- Having a home is a human right and public responsibility. All people in Europe have a right to affordable, adequate housing. EU legislation must under no circumstances be allowed to restrict access to subsidized and affordable housing.
- The restriction of new debt provided for by EU rules makes it far more difficult for countries, cities and communities in Europe to finance the construction of affordable living space through loans. Hence, the demand is therefore to exempt investments in social housing by countries, cities and communities from the “Maastricht Criteria” (“Golden Rule”).
- The European Investment Bank shall set up a fund, which makes available loans to non-profit and public construction companies for creating affordable living space at particularly favourable conditions.
- Due to short-term leases to tourists via online platforms, cities are losing a large amount of living space, which in turn results in making the situation on the housing market even worse. Apart from that, these platforms often enjoy tax advantages. Hence, the requirement is for a Europe-wide regulation, which ensures that short-term leases do not lead to a shortage in properties to rent and that the providing online platforms do not enjoy any tax advantages.
- The demand is that data on housing requirement and housing cost in the European regions is collected in a standardised manner throughout Europe. Only then will it be possible to visualise developments on Europe’s housing markets and to politically steer the issue of housing.
Sign now and send out a strong signal
Only together will we be able to send a strong signal for affordable housing in Europe and put pressure on European decision-makers to take action. For the next twelve months, we will have the opportunity of supporting the Initiative with our signature. If we succeed to collect one million pledges of support from at least seven Member States, the European Commission will be obliged to address the Initiative; the European Parliament too would have to present its views on the issue. A positive example from the past is the European Citizens’ Initiative “Right2Water”, which had been signed by 1.8 million citizens. As a direct result, it let to water supply being exempt from the Concessions Directive and also was also reason for the revision of the Drinking Water Directive.