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Housing

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.

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In the face of these dramatic situations, civil society is organising itself - either in collaboration with institutions or independently - to find solutions and ensure access to decent housing. What actions exactly are being implemented and how can institutions facilitate the development of these actions?

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.

Image 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.

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Occupying abandoned buildings

Author: Anne-Iris Romens - Published At: 2013-05-15 12:18 -

The reusing of abandoned housing may be provided by through law or policy. In other cases, the occupation of buildings is done without the consent of the legal owner of the premises, despite it lying vacant and unused, and is therefore considered illegal.

Mapping abandoned buildings

Author: Anne-Iris Romens - Published At: 2013-05-15 09:55 -

As hundreds of buildings contine to lie abandoned and unused all across Europe, creative initiatives have appeared in several European countries that aim at mapping abandoned buildings in the hope that they will be later used in some shape or form.

Bail emphytéotique

Author: Anne-Iris - Published At: 2013-06-05 13:15 -

Often seen as a way of legalizing the occupation of spaces where activities of community interest are being performed, the emphyteutic lease is a type of long-term real estate contract that provides large rights to the lessees on condition of taking care of the land or building and paying a small rent.

Empty Dwelling Management Orders (EDMOs)

Author: Anne-Iris Romens/Lorna Muddiman - Published At: 2013-05-15 13:01 -

Legal device used in England and Wales, which enables local authorities to put an unoccupied property back into use as housing.

The soft requisition bill

Author: Louise Hain - Published At: 2013-05-15 12:54 -

Facilitates negotiation talks with the owners of abandoned buildings and other unused premises.

Bill in Andalucía

Author: Anne-Iris Romens - Published At: 2013-05-15 12:47 -

Based on Ex-propriation and fines in order to avoid buildings lying empty while families and individuals face homelessness on the streets of Andalucía, Spain.

Self-construction

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.

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Self-constructed communities

Author: Anne-Iris Romens - Published At: 2013-05-15 13:09 -

Self-construction can be part of a community project where the members of a community help one in each other to build their own houses

Material and land for self-construction

Author: Anne-Iris Romens - Published At: 2013-05-15 13:26 -

Some towns provide land and materials free-of-charge to enable citizens to build their own houses with the help of the community.

Stimulating self-construction

Author: Anne-Iris Romens - Published At: 2013-05-15 13:13 -

Several initiatives aim at sharing knowledge and facilitating self-construction, be it in housing, farming facilities, shelters, etc.

Public-Commons partnership

In terms of access to housing, new hybrid forms are emerging that bring together public authorities with civil society.

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Community Land Trusts

Author: Anne-Iris Romens - Published At: 2013-05-15 13:37 -

Community Land Trusts (CLT) combine 'access to housing' with the principle of 'democratic management' in everyday living.

Sharing houses

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.

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Sharing a place to stay

Author: Anne-Iris Romens - Published At: 2013-05-27 09:16 -

Worldwide, a variety of on-line platforms have been developed to facilitate the hosting of persons.

Intergenerational solidarity housing

Author: Lorna Muddiman - Published At: 2013-05-15 13:54 -

Intergenerational solidarity housing initiatives enable young students to be hosted cheaply by seniors in exchange of a small presence and services that can in no way however be a substitute for professional care services.

Sharing a building

Author: Anne-Iris Romens - Published At: 2013-05-15 08:38 -

Shared housing experiences, such as neighbours living in the same building, may result in better organisation and sharing of resources, thus facilitating greater access to all involved. Take for example, the sharing of food through the establishment of a group-purchased building, or organising shared care of loved ones.

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ALL examples of Actions and Policies

  • Please note: ACTIONS (in orange) and POLICIES (in green)
Click HERE for the examples

Solidarity Bulgaria (SB)

Author: Maria Jeliazkova - Published At: 2013-08-13 14:20 -

Solidarity Bulgaria is a discussion network of citizens believing in the values of freedom, solidarity and justice. The initiative promotes discussions on important social issues, ranging from poverty to social security to housing. The Group is active in social & environmental issues as well as standards of living. The aim is to empower civil society and restore solidarity through active discussions, public initiatives, drafting of legal changes and elaboration of position papers.

Officine Zero

Author: alessandra sciurba - Published At: 2013-06-12 13:33 -

Conversion of an abandoned factory into a space for sustainable production, co-housing and co-working.

Infirmiers de rue (Street nurses)

Author: Louise Hain - Published At: 2013-05-13 08:58 -
Infirmiers de rue

Infirmiers de rue bridges the gap between the streets and health actors to bring care and hygiene to homeless people through an empowering method around people’s dignity, self-esteem and responsibility. Using hygiene as an entry point for self-recovery, the Association ensures long-term support until housing re-insertion.

Corrala La Utopía

Author: Lorna Muddiman - Published At: 2013-04-29 14:56 -

A collective project of a self-organised group of families - in urgent need of housing - who have occupied a building owned by a bank partly responsible for the crisis.

Shared Condominium

Author: alessandra sciurba - Published At: 2013-04-26 12:58 -

Confabitare, an association of residents of condominiums, owners or tenants, organised within a single project of two actions: 1 - Organisation within the condominium of a shared food expenditure through a condominium purchasing group. 2 - Sharing of caring needs for the elderly through a shared "care worker" of the condominium.

Living Architecture

Author: Lorna Muddiman - Published At: 2013-04-25 08:17 -

Living Architecture articulates the vital link which exists between architecture and life. This synthesis of abstract and physical considerations has shown itself in practice to be an ideal means to address many of the demands of modern life, particularly how to live ‘sustainably’.

Comunità La Zattera (The Raft Community)

Author: alessandra sciurba  - Published At: 2013-04-21 09:22 -

A community of lay Combonian missionaries obtains a space whereby it starts a process of co-habitation by the pooling together of resources. The new space is also aimed at being a place of welcome and hospitality for people in need.

Taxi Stop

Author: Lorna Muddiman - Published At: 2013-04-19 12:32 -
Taxistop Logo

Organisation enabling sharing since 1975: ride-sharing: Carpoolplaza, Eurostop, Eventpool. Car-Sharing: Cambio-car-sharing, Autopia P2P. Homelink, home-sitting. Social transport service for less mobile people, done by volunteers...

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Liège neighborhood Mediation

Author: Louise Hain - Published At: 2013-08-12 15:09 -

Neighborhood Mediation is a proximity tool used to pacify conflicts and tensions in Liege’s targeted areas may they be of all kinds (intergenerational/intercultural) and develop mutual respect and self-empowerement of inhabitants.

Bail emphytéotique

Author: Anne-Iris - Published At: 2013-06-05 13:15 -

Often seen as a way of legalizing the occupation of spaces where activities of community interest are being performed, the emphyteutic lease is a type of long-term real estate contract that provides large rights to the lessees on condition of taking care of the land or building and paying a small rent.

The soft requisition bill

Author: Louise Hain - Published At: 2013-05-15 12:54 -

Facilitates negotiation talks with the owners of abandoned buildings and other unused premises.

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