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Social Housing in Europe



Social Housing in Europe

Kathleen Scanlon (Editor), Christine Whitehead (Editor), Melissa Fernández Arrigoitia (Editor)

ISBN: 978-1-118-41238-1 April 2014 Wiley-Blackwell 496 Pages

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All countries aim to improve housing conditions for their citizens but many have been forced by the financial crisis to reduce government expenditure.  Social housing is at the crux of this tension.  Policy-makers, practitioners and academics want to know how other systems work and are looking for something written in clear English, where there is a depth of understanding of the literature in other languages and direct contributions from country experts across the continent.

Social Housing in Europe combines a comparative overview of European social housing written by scholars with in-depth chapters written by international housing experts. The countries covered include Austria, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, The Netherlands and Sweden, with a further chapter devoted to CEE countries other than Hungary. 

The book provides an up-to-date international comparison of social housing policy and practice.  It offers an analysis of how the social housing system currently works in each country, supported by relevant statistics.  It identifies European trends in the sector, and opportunities for innovation and improvement.

These country-specific chapters are accompanied by topical thematic chapters dealing with subjects such as the role of social housing in urban regeneration, the privatisation of social housing, financing models, and the impact of European Union state aid regulations on the definitions and financing of social housing.

Notes on Contributors xv

Foreword by Claude Taffin xxiii

Acknowledgments xxv

1 Introduction 1
Kathleen Scanlon, Christine Whitehead and Melissa Fernández Arrigoitia

National stocks of social housing 3

Ownership 6

Rents 6

Access 10

Housing allowance 12

Demographics of social tenants 12


Part I Large Social Housing Sectors 23

2 Social Housing in the Netherlands 25
Marja Elsinga and Frank Wassenberg

Position of social housing 25

Historical development 27

The provision of social housing 29

Finance 30

Rents 32

Access and allocation 33

Social housing-tenants 34

Governance and regulation 35

Current debates 37

3 Social Housing in Scotland 43
Douglas Robertson and Regina Serpa

Introduction 43

Historical development of social housing in Scotland 44

Tenure profile and trends 46

Insecure accommodation 47

Housing allocations 47

Financing of social housing 49

Governance and regulation 49

Capital investment in housing 50

Right to Buy 51

Housing finance 52

New house-building trends 54

Financial innovations 55

Conclusion: Present-day policy environment 56

4 Social Housing in Austria 61
Christoph Reinprecht

Introduction: the current position of social housing 61

Historical development of the sector up to the present 63

Provision of social housing 65

Financing 66

Rents 68

Access 69

Demographics 70

Governance and regulation 71

Current policy environment 72

Part II Medium Social Housing Sectors 75

5 Social Housing in Denmark 77
Hedvig Vestergaard and Kathleen Scanlon

Introduction 77

The current position of social housing 78

Provision of social housing 79

Landsbyggefonden/The National Building Fund 80

Access to social housing/eligibility 81

Demographics of social housing 83

Rent levels 85

Other forms of affordable provision 85

The political debate 86

Recent initiatives 87

Conclusion 88

6 Social Housing in Sweden 91
Hans Lind

The concept of social housing in the Swedish context 91

Tenure forms and rent setting in Sweden 93

MHCs in Sweden 96

Housing allowances and other economic support 97

How the social authorities work with housing issues 99

Some recent trends 99

Conclusion 101

7 Social Housing in England 105
Christine Whitehead

The housing stock and the changing importance of tenure structure 105

Structure and ownership in the social sector 107

Investment in new social housing 108

Financing the social sector 110

Rent determination 113

Who lives in the social sector? 115

Looking to the future 117

8 Social Housing in France 123
Claire Lévy-Vroelant, Jean-Pierre Schaefer and Christian Tutin

Introduction: the current position of social housing in France 123

Historical development of social housing 127

Organisation of the social housing sector 130

Financing social housing 131

Rents 133

Access and allocation 135

Tenant demographics 139

Current issues and political debates 140

Part III Small Social Housing Sectors 143

9 Social Housing in the Republic of Ireland 145
Declan Redmond and Michelle Norris

Introduction 145

The development of the social housing sector 146

Housing need and social housing tenants 148

The local authority sector 151

The housing association sector 153

Planning gain and social housing 155

Social housing support: rent supplement and social housing leasing 156

Future trends and policy 159

10 Social Housing in the Czech Republic 165
Martin Lux

Introduction 165

The current position of social housing 166

Historical development of the sector to the present day 168

Provision of social housing 170

New municipal construction: policy and financing 173

Rents, access and allocation 176

Conclusion 178

Acknowledgement 179

11 Social Housing in Germany 183
Christiane Droste and Thomas Knorr-Siedow

Introduction 183

Development of the sector up to the present 184

Provision of social housing 194

Current developments in social housing policy and practice 196

Conclusion 199

12 Social Housing in Hungary 205
József Hegedüs

Introduction 205

Historical development of the sector up to the present 207

Provision of social housing 210

Financing social housing 211

Rents 213

Access and allocation 215

Housing allowances and ‘low-cost housing’ 216

Homeownership opportunities 218

Effects of the global financial crisis on social housing 219

Conclusion 220

13 Social Housing in Spain 223
Baralides Alberdi

Introduction 223

Historical development of the sector 226

Structure of social housing 228

Funding VPO social housing 229

VPO prices and rents 231

Access and allocation 232

Demographics of social housing 233

Current policy environment 233

14 Social Housing in Post-Socialist Countries 239
József Hegedüs, Martin Lux, Petr Sunega and Nóra Teller

Introduction: the East European Housing Model and changes to the housing system during transition 239

Rent regulation 241

Housing allowances 243

Social housing management 244

New social housing investment 244

Trends in housing affordability and housing inequality 246

The sustainability and effectiveness of new social housing subsidies 248

Conclusions: prospects for a new social housing regime 250

Acknowledgement 251


Part IV History 257

15 Histories of Social Housing: A Comparative Approach 259
Peter Malpass

Introduction 259

Perspectives on the history of social housing 260

Comparative housing histories: a new approach 266

Conclusion 272

16 Learning from History: Path Dependency and Change in the Social Housing Sectors of Austria, France, the Netherlands and Scotland, 1889–2013 277
Claire Lévy-Vroelant, Christoph Reinprecht, Douglas Robertson and Frank Wassenberg

Introduction 277

Main historical sequences 279

The metamorphosis of social housing 285

Conclusion 291

17 Housing the Poor in Paris and Vienna: The Changing Understanding of the ‘Social’ 297
Claire Lévy-Vroelant and Christoph Reinprecht

Introduction 297

Social and ‘very social’: shifts in contexts, concepts and provision 298

Conditions in and provision of social housing, then and now 300

From social to very social 302

Historical shifts in meaning of ‘very social’ 306

Conclusion: the paradox of integration 311

Part V Finance and Law 315

18 Financing Social Rented Housing in Europe 317
Christine Whitehead

Introduction 317

Rent determination 318

An increasing role for private debt finance 321

Equity finance for social housing 324

Subsidies to social housing provision 326

Conclusion 328

19 Social Housing and European Community Competition Law 333
Darinka Czischke

Introduction 333

A typology of approaches to social housing provision in the European Union 334

Services of general interest, state aid and social housing 336

Conclusion 344

20 Property, Altruism and Welfare: What Social Housing Allocation Tells Us About English and French Legal Differences 349
Jane Ball

Introduction 349

Social housing allocation in the European context 350

A holistic view 351

Property and altruism in England 352

Property law and altruism in France 355

Changes and Europeanisation 360

Conclusion 362

Part VI The Social and Private Sectors 367

21 Urban Regeneration in Dutch, French and German Social Housing Areas 369
Christiane Droste, Christine Lelévrier and Frank Wassenberg

Social housing and urban regeneration in the three countries: a comparative perspective 369

The main periods of urban regeneration in social housing 372

Key features of current social housing renewal 380

Conclusion: the playing field is changing 384

22 The Privatisation of Social Housing: Three Different Pathways 389
Marja Elsinga, Mark Stephens and Thomas Knorr-Siedow

Introduction 389

Privatisation in the UK 390

Privatisation in the Netherlands 396

Privatisation in Germany 401

Conclusion 409

23 Housing and Neighbourhoods: What Happened After the Sale of State Housing to Sitting Tenants in England? 415
Alan Murie

Introduction 415

Privatising public housing in Europe 417

The Right to Buy in England 418

Social and spatial differences 419

Estate-level analysis 422

Conclusion 428

24 Conclusion 433
Kathleen Scanlonn and Christine Whitehead

Country comparisons 435

Cross-cutting themes 442

A final conclusion 443

Glossary of Terms 445

Index 449