This conference was co-organised by the European Economic and Social Committee and the Ministry of Economics of Latvia and it brought together local, national and European actors to discuss the challenges and solutions of building sustainable and affordable housing.
The current energy supply crisis triggered by the war in Ukraine and the unprecedented increase in energy prices, on top of the economic and social consequences of the COVID-19 crisis, have intensified the severity of the affordable housing crisis that EU Member States have been facing for years.
Access to good quality and affordable housing is a basic need of the European population; it is key to achieving a number of economic, environmental and social policy objectives and to promoting equal opportunities, social inclusion and mobility.
Although housing policy remains the competence of the Member States, the shortage of decent and affordable housing in the EU requires a European action plan on housing.
Stepping up the energy performance of buildings is key. As part of the renovation wave strategy, the affordable housing initiative intends to at least double renovation rates in the EU by breaking down long-standing barriers to energy- and resource-efficient renovation as well as improving re-use and recycling.
At EU level, the initiative is in line with the European Pillar of Social Rights under principle 19 "housing and assistance for the homeless", the cohesion policy 2021-2027 objectives supporting local strategies, the European Regional Development Fund, and the New European Bauhaus project, which aims to combine design, sustainability, accessibility, affordability and investment to help deliver the European Green Deal.
A special focus was put on the role of civil society organisations and local authorities on the ground in achieving ownership, bottom-up participation in housing policies, proper information to the direct beneficiaries and financing facilitation.