Governments ‘must be innovative’ to meet rising housing need

30 May 18

Governments and local authorities need to be more innovative to meet the need for housing, an OECD panel has heard.

Despite a strong recovery after the 2008 recession, homelessness is increasing around the world and the divide between poor and rich is growing, the panel on housing said on Tuesday.

Freek Spinnewijn, director of the European Federation of National Organisations Working with the Homeless, told the panel there is a need for housing – and local authorities should look beyond the way they have dealt with the issue in the past. 

He said: “We need to be more creative and innovative. There is an urgent need for housing.”

He added that authorities should look at how they can use empty carparks, churches or office buildings to provide temporary housing for those in need.

Willem Adema, senior economist at OECD, said there is a lack for a formal and recognised definition of homelessness.

In OECD countries, just 6 to 7% live in social sector housing, which is provided by the authorities, while 60% live in their own homes.

Austrian MP and member of the city council of Vienna Omar Al-Rawi told the panelists that “housing and social housing should be considered one of the pillars” of society.

Adema said that the stock of social housing has declined and “governments have taken a step back”.

The panel said there is a need for governments, local governments, developers and investors, as well as civil society groups, to work together to come up with a solution to the housing shortage around the world.

Spinnewijn said: “The alternative [to providing housing] is expensive as well.

“It requires a budget investment but in the long-run it’s not more expensive [to provide social housing].”

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