Although the right to housing has been affirmed for decades by numerous international instruments, it remains only a dream for the millions of people in Europe suffering from non-housing and poor housing conditions. In some countries such as Ireland and Spain, these problems have been exacerbated by the crisis that started in 2008 and the recession that followed. Thousands of families found themselves suddenly unable to pay their mortgages, and those that faced eviction were left homeless.
We present below some original actions (in orange) that are being implemented across the continent as well as policies (in green) (tax laws, etc.) that support these actions and facilitate access to housing.
Pictures by CLT Bruxelles, Ruben Mendez, globalproject, Corrala de vecinas La Utopía and livingarchitecturecentre.com
Reusing abandoned buildings
While millions of people are homeless or having to live in inadequate housing as many, if not more, homes are empty and abandoned. In Spain, the number of unused or vacant houses is estimated to be over 3 million.
Everywhere in Europe, individuals, families and groups of people are choosing to build their own homes themselves. The self-construction concept - generally used to create low-cost housing - responds to the wishes of future residents who are free to imagine their own home and take ownership of their future living space; as well, it often incorporates an ecological dimension. In many cases, the construction phase is a collective process involving friends, other members of a group or community, neighbours, etc. The self-construction process can be realised in different settings, ranging from an individual approach to a collective project.
In terms of access to housing, new hybrid forms are emerging that bring together public authorities with civil society.
To reduce everyday costs and live a collective experience, groups of people are choosing to opt for shared accommodation. Collocations, co-housing and other types of group housing can also help to combat isolation, suffered by many people experiencing poverty or insecurity.
ALL examples of Actions and Policies
- Please note: ACTIONS (in orange) and POLICIES (in green)
The Athens Time Bank was created in May 2011, at Sydagma Square, when thousands of people gathered there to participate in mass strikes and demonstrations.