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Místo konání konference

The Institute of Sociology, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic and the Ministry of Regional Development organized an international seminar Social Housing in Europe 2000. The seminar was held in the Image Theatre in Prague on the 6th and 7th October 2000. With the support of the Hungarian Cultural Institute, the Slovak Institute and the Polish Cultural Institute, many well-known housing researchers from the countries of European Union and Central and Eastern Europe discussed problems, trends and the future of social housing in Europe. The main participants included Prof. Hugo Priemus from Delft University (Netherlands), Dr. Kenneth Gibb from Glasgow University (Great Britain), Dr. Ivan Tosics and Ms. Eva Geröhazi from the Metropolitan Research Institute in Budapest (Hungary), Mr. Zdislaw Slabkowicz from the Forum of Social Housing Associations in Warsaw (Poland), Ms. Alina Muziol- Weclawowicz from the National Economy Bank in Warsaw (Poland), Ms. Elena Szolgayova from the Ministry for Construction and Regional Development in Bratislava (Slovakia), Ms. Jaroslava Zapletalova from the Institute of Housing in Bratislava (Slovakia), etc. Czech researchers, policy-makers, politicians and pressure groups concerned with housing and urban policy also participated in the discussion. The seminar was held in English.

The seminar programme and abstracts of presentations are listed below.

Publikace Social Housing in Europe 2000

Papers of participants of the workshop Social Housing in Europe 2000 are available in the publication Lux, M. (ed.) 2000. Social Housing in Europe 2000. Prague: Institute of Sociology, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic.





Friday, 6th October, 2000

Morning Session: Contemporary situation and trends in social housing sector in the European Union.

Welcome address by the director of the Housing Policy Department of the Ministry for Regional Development of Czech Republic (Ing. Daniela Grabmüllerová).

Introductory address by the director of the Institute of Sociology, Academy of Sciences of Czech Republic (Dr. Michal Illner).

Purpose and objectives of the Workshop (Ing. Mgr. Martin Lux).

The presentation of Prof. Hugo Priemus, Delft University of Technology, Netherlands.

My contribution to the conference ‘Social Housing in the European Union 2000’ deals with growth and stagnation in the social rented sector in Western Europe. I try to explain current and future changes in the market share of social rented housing. In addition, the changes within the social rented sector will be examined. In what respects is this sector changing and what is the social dimension of the social rented sector now and in the future? I give an overview of the current transformation from social housing to owner-occupation in large parts of the housing stock in most European countries. The general outlook is a declining or stable market share of social rented dwellings. There is no European country where an increasing market share of social rented dwellings is expected now. In countries where the share of owner-occupancy is very large, there is not much evidence of growth in this sector. Owner-occupancy may be expected to rise when the economy picks up, when mortgage interest rates drop, and when governments offer homeowners tax advantages. But owner-occupancy may stagnate or even decrease when the economy slows down, unemployment rises, the number of structural full-time jobs declines, urbanisation increases, the population ages, or when a large influx of immigrants from poor countries occurs. The development of social housing is connected with the development of the welfare state. Those who expect that the welfare state will disappear have sombre expectations about the future of social housing. When we expect a reconstruction of the welfare state and in the same time a bright future for this reconstructed welfare state, we may also foresee a new future for social rented housing. This sector has to be reformed by a privatisation of finance, a stronger market orientation and a greater efficiency. As long as the social rented sector is primarily oriented towards low-income households and as long as profits are reinvested in housing, social rented housing will maintain its ‘social’ profile. A differentiated social housing sector with a substantial size and with a differentiated tenancy mix may play a crucial role in preventing spatial segregation of income groups. In this way social housing can contribute to the sustainability of a modernised welfare state.

The presentation of Dr. Kenneth Gibb, Department of Urban Studies, University of Glasgow, United Kingdom.

Despite the advent of the Single Market and the Euro, the European Union exhibits considerable diversity in its social and economic arrangements in a number of important spheres. One significant way in which countries differ in the EU is according to the types of national housing system (which of course interacts with national economic structures, welfare regimes, social trends and policy agendas). The focus of this paper is one aspect of these national housing systems, the social rented sector, and tries to map out trends and sources of change, divergence and convergence in social renting across selected EU nations. The approach taken in the paper is from an applied economics and financial perspective. The paper will draw heavily on the UK experience and from secondary sources examining social housing in Europe and the contemporary housing literature in selected EU countries.

Afternoon Session 1: The reality and prospects of social housing in the Central Europe

The presentation of Mr. Martin Lux, Institute of Sociology, Academy of Sciences, Prague, Czech Republic.

The paper provides brief description of main housing policy features during the Communism and of main changes in the sphere of rental housing during the last decade in the Czech Republic. The emphasis is placed on critical evaluation of the current state in the municipal housing, as the "social" character of this kind of housing is very low. The differences between market rents in free private rental sector and controlled rents in municipal housing are shown, and the distribution of profits from rent regulation among lower and higher income household is described. The share of lower income households on total number of households living in municipal rent-controlled housing sector is not significantly higher than this share in the case of other tenures. Large share of higher income households prospers then from low level of rent prices. On the contrary, the young non-residing households, very often with very low income, are forced to live in market rental sector and do not obtain any state contribution or any tenant protection. The deficit of new social housing legislation and social housing construction strengthens the social tensions on housing market. Housing policy measures introduced or prepared by Czech authorities currently do not provide a guarantee for future positive change towards higher affordability of rental housing. According to the author the transformation of rental housing sector has been realised only partially up to now. The list of future challenges of social housing and necessary housing policy measures is provided and discussed.

The presentations of Mr. Iván Tosics, Mr. Jozef Hegedüs, and Ms. Eva Geröhazi, Metropolitan Research Institute, Budapest, Hungary.

The paper outlines the background of the current housing situation by describing the legal and economic changes concerning the housing sector in the last decade. The most dramatic changes could be observed in the social rental sector. The “social rental” sector in Hungary is considered to be equal to the municipal rental sector which was about 18-20% of the total stock before the privatization process started in the beginning of the 90’s. By now this share reduced to 5-5,5% and is still reducing. The management, maintenance and the renovation of this stock makes a big loss for the municipalities as the social rents are still a lot below the market level, they do not cover even the most needed expenses. The municipalities are in the decision of widening and economizing the sector at the same time. By now the only actor in the social housing field is the municipality, there are no signs of changing the total rental sector towards the most common European models. The paper gives a critical analysis of the latest measures of the national government which tries to avoid any fundamental changes in the housing sector and especially in the rental sector. The presentation also tries to outline the difficulties of widening the rental and mainly the social rental sector in Hungary. These difficulties could be rooted in the weakness of the financial sector, the lack of proper organizational forms, the lack of an effective system of housing allowances etc.

Saturday, 7th October, 2000

Morning Session: The reality and prospects of social housing in the Central Europe

The presentation of Mr. Zdislaw Slabkowicz, Forum of Social Housing Associations, Warszawa and Ms. Alina Muziol-Weclawowicz, National Bank of Poland, Warszawa, Poland.

Financial and legal assumptions, the process of implementation and data on the stock of the contemporary social housing system in Poland are reported in the paper in details. Social housing programme, established in 1995, is recognised as one of the most prosperous element of the housing provision system in Poland. There are several contextual conditions for this, for example:

  • withdrawn of the state from subsidising other sectors, previously noted as “affordable”,
  • strong market orientation of the social housing model – “good quality for reasonable price” policy,
  • limited demand for market, owner-occupied high standard new construction caused by the poor economic condition of the households,
  • continuous political governmental support for the programme,
  • interrelations between social housing programme and self-government’s obligations in the field of housing.

Social housing in the current state policy is seen as a mid-term programme facilitating an increase of housing affordability for medium and lower income households during transitional phase of economic reforms. In a longer perspective social housing associations will continue investments and might compete with other institutions as managers of the stock.

The presentations of Ms. Jaroslava Zapletalová, Institute of Housing, Bratislava and Ms. Elena Szolgayová, Ministry of Construction and Regional Development of Slovak Republic, Bratislava, Slovakia.

When evaluating the current state of housing in Slovakia and its accessibility for lower income groups it is necessary to go back to the situation in housing sector after the revolution in 1990 and recall several points:

  • system of financing and subsidy policy of housing and renovation of the housing stock, including social housing;
  • ways and outcomes of public finance investment – subsidy policy and its influence on the quality and quantity of the construction; efficiency of spending of the funds and basic ways of investments;
  • housing stock management system, including social housing;
  • types of ownership of the housing stock, position of the owners and their influence on the housing stock management; housing of various types of social groups / social differentiation issue;
  • regulatory measures and their impact.

Based on the comparison of the data and information from the previous period with the current information, the recent development in the field in the past ten years will be presented along with usefulness and absence of transformation measures. The presentation will focus on the following areas that have to do with the provision of housing for lower income groups.

  • Gradual privatization of the housing stock, reasons and ways of implementation; changes in the ownership of the housing stock, pros and cons of such process, implications for low income groups; development in financing and subsidy policy into the housing; recent development in the construction of new housing units and renovation of the housing stock; results of the recent investment of the public funds into the construction of new housing units (existence of the State Fund of Housing Development and other support programs), efficiency of their investment, impact on the ownership structure, impact on the housing accessibility for lower income groups.
  • Management of housing stock, institutional forms of provision.
  • Role and position of the local government and NGOs of the public and private sectors, legal issues related to the form of individual types of investment and management companies; transformation of the state management companies; role and position of the entrepreneur organizations and their establishing body, housing cooperatives / impact of the transformation law and their current situation, absence of non-for profit management within the public sector, system of assignment of housing units, position and forms of management companies and their relation to the various types of owners of the housing stock; impact of the recent changes on the lower income groups; ways of implementation of regulatory measures (state, municipality).
  • Recent development in the price policy, non-existence of the tax policy, implementation of the current regulatory measures and its impact on the state and the citizen; development of investment costs and prices for housing (rent and payments for the services related to housing), increasing discrepancy between the price for a new construction and the ability of the citizens to pay for their housing (payment items), reserves in the state regulatory measures (state regulation policy of the subsidies into the housing / targeted programs) reserves in the usage of the housing stock (consumption basket and payments for housing – composition of the individual items, possibilities and needs for change from the perspective of the state and the citizen).
  • Introduction of the Housing Allowance program as of January 2000, recent experience and ways of modification of its implementation.
  • Alternatives of the further procedure.
  • Future possibilities of provision of housing for lower income groups and other protected groups; recent ambiguities and setbacks (legislation, executive bodies, institutional arrangement) that impede the creation of fully fledged housing market and a possibility of protection of the socially disadvantaged groups in the current conditions and environment; issues dealing with the upcoming decentralization of the competencies and modernization of the public administration including the ways and forms of planned development on individual levels, goals of the state and local housing policy and Agenda Habitat.

The presentations were dealing with:

  • Development of social housing sector in the EU countries during the last decades, ways of financing and subsidising, legal measures, evaluation of economic and "social" efficiency, trends and problems of social housing operation.
  • Variety of social housing forms in the EU countries with emphasis on France, Netherlands and Great Britain.
  • The influence of European Monetary Union on social housing finance.
  • The risks of social housing: financial demands, social exclusion, lower accessibility.
  • Social aspects of housing and new social housing legislation in Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic.
The Workshop was organized in co-operation with:
  • Ministry for Regional Development,
  • Hungarian Cultural Institute,
  • Slovakian Institute,
  • Polish Cultural Institute.