Approximately 50 million people in the UNECE region live in inadequate housing conditions. In the 21st century, the governance, land and finance systems that influence the delivery and consumption of housing have been beset by numerous crises. Emanating from climate change, unguided investment flows, and most recently, a global pandemic, these crises have had profound consequences for the people and the planet. To address the huge challenge of housing affordability for groups such as youth, the elderly and middle-income earners, struggling to find quality housing in large cities where rent prices are skyrocketing, UNECE, UN-Habitat and Housing Europe have launched the report “#Housing2030: Effective policies for affordable housing in the UNECE region”.
The report was presented at the UNECE Ministerial Meeting held in Geneva under the title “Affordable, adequate, and resilient housing in liveable cities, including cities which face extreme weather conditions” on 6 October 2021. Developed under the joint international initiative of UNECE, UN-Habitat and Housing Europe, known as #Housing2030, the report focuses on solutions to the housing affordability crisis in the UNECE region, highlighting existing policy instruments and good practices.
UNECE Executive Secretary, Ms. Olga Algayerova said: “Countries in the region are reporting increasing gaps between income and housing costs, as well as social and spatial inequalities in access to affordable housing. This represents a challenge not only for low-income and vulnerable groups, but also increasingly for middle-class households in the context of shrinking public sector resources, capacity to support affordable housing supply, and lack of political will to address key challenges. The #Housing2030 report is a powerful document which provides us with clear priorities to make housing in the UNECE region more affordable, decent and accessible for all”.
Ms. Maimunah Mohd Sharif, Executive Director of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme stated: “Since its foundation, UN-Habitat has worked to promote the realization of the right to adequate housing for all as one of the transformative forces that can lead the world to overcome challenges related to climate change, poverty, exclusion and inequality. We committed to ensure that the growth of cities and nations around the world translates in more equally distributed opportunities, and that no-one and no place is left behind. Increasing housing affordability is critical in reaching this goal and is now made even more urgent by the impacts of COVID-19. For this reason, #Housing2030 is as timely as it is crucial”.
In his address to the meeting, Mr. Rajagopal Balakrishnan, Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing stressed that: “Many large cities in Europe have been facing a serious affordability crisis, with housing costs escalating far quicker than average incomes. In most European countries homelessness has been increasing over the last two decades. It is not a general supply problem, but a very particular one related to the low income housing segment, that requires in my view an active role of the State and common efforts to address it. Often it is the local Governments who are willing to address these issues, but they lack adequate resources and often even legal authority to fight homelessness and sub-standard housing conditions throughout the continent.”
The #Housing2030 report focuses on four topics: (1) Housing governance and regulation; (2) Access to finance and funding; (3) Access and availability of land for housing construction; and (4) Climate-neutral housing construction and renovation. #Housing2030 and its online repository of best practices make clear what affordable housing entails: effective governance, strategic land policy, as well as purposeful circuits of investment and active promotion of climate neutral and affordable housing and neighbourhoods. The study draws on the experience of over 100 researchers, policymakers, housing providers and advocates from across the UNECE region and beyond, to define useful approaches, outline their advantages and disadvantages, and illustrate their practical application. The study involved an extraordinary level of stakeholder engagement, despite the constraints of the COVID-19 pandemic, using survey instruments, online workshops and podcasts in order to maximize the exchange of policy experience and good practices.
The study also underlines that housing is central to people’s lives, health, dignity, safety and their neighbourhoods. Housing also contributes significantly to social solidarity, environmental sustainability, and economic stability.
The report will support policymakers to shape more resilient housing systems and ensure that decent homes and neighbourhoods are affordable, safe and accessible, by implementing the SDGs by 2030, meeting the Paris Agreement climate goals and realising the Right to Adequate Housing. It recalls that progress can be accelerated with high-level political support and long-term commitment.
UNECE, UN-Habitat and Housing Europe strongly believe that governments can drive action to address housing and related concerns, supported by capable and dedicated policy designers, experts and informed advocates. The report offers key policy stakeholders, such as housing ministers and mayors, the tools to shape more inclusive and sustainable housing systems, together with the households and communities they serve.
The #Housing2030 website (www.housing2030.org) provides an online resource of best practices, practitioner presentations, webinar recordings and audio podcasts. It also offers a living platform for sharing policy progress among the UNECE community. See also: https://unece.org/publications/housing-and-land-management