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18 January 2017

What can Housing Europe tell us about housing in Wales? #rural17

Sorcha Edwards is Secretary General of Housing Europe - the European Federation of public, co-operative and social housing organisations including Community Housing Cymru (CHC). It is a network of 43 national and regional federations in 23 countries. Together, they manage more than 26 million homes – about 11% of the existing properties in the EU.

Sorcha Edwards is speaking at CHC’s Rural Housing Conference next Thursday, 26 January.

Rapid urbanisation across Europe has resulted in a de-population of rural areas. Not unsurprisingly then that the number of people living in urban areas is expected to rise from 73% of the population in 2014 to over 80% by 2050.

Affordability in European capital cities is also a serious problem. A study found that 95% of people in Paris, for example, say it isn’t easy to find good housing at affordable prices.

Across Wales and the rest of mainland Europe young adults are struggling to get onto the housing ladder. The problem is at its worst in Slovakia where 74% of young people are still living with their parents.

This is why in 2015 Housing Europe launched “Housing for All” to boost the supply of affordable homes for live-able communities. It is a pan-European campaign calling for action and cooperation between political and financial institutions, countries, local authorities and housing providers.

It’s an important step forward as there is a huge need for the “construction and conversion of homes” to solve current and future housing needs. Just as urgent is the need to alleviate fuel poverty and increase energy efficiency. This could be achieved by empowering local communities to work with energy companies and housing associations by becoming energy providers.

It is a big agenda, however a vital one. We need to be flexible enough to protect vulnerable groups in our rural communities and open to mobilising all options available such as Community Land Trust deals and shared ownership schemes as well as increased social housing.

By working together we can share and learn from each other protecting our rural communities across Wales and the rest of Europe. Book your place at the Rural Housing Conference here