Vienna’s Social Housing Success: A Blueprint for Affordable Living

  • Post category:NEWS

Under the SIFTA program, FEBEA held a training on the topic of social housing last week in Vienna, co-organised by one of its Austrian members, the European Centre for Social Finance. Given the current salience of the topic, the training gathered experts with different backgrounds to provide a picture of the current challenges and solutions to the lack of affordable housing Europe is increasingly facing. With a bright history in social housing, Vienna was chosen as the destination of this session as it has a large enough pool of organisations working in the field, but also because it allowed to complete the event with a field visit to one of the largest social housing complexes in the world, the Karl Marx Hof.

Financial health for all through housing

Raphael Lehmann, from another Austrian member of FEBEA, Erste Social Finance Holding, provided insights on how banks can develop effective financing instruments that can be of great help for the provision of quality and affordable housing. Erste Social Finance also developed innovative cross-border projects to guarantee affordable housing with an eye to financial inclusion of vulnerable people, as the CEE region especially lacks a regulatory framework and long-term public funding.

Financing the impossible

“As social innovators, we are the intermediary between who has the ideas and who has the funds”

The Slovak Socialni Inovatori demonstrated how the organisation puts itself between those who have the drive to solve societal challenges but lack the means, and those who can provide them. Given the deficiency of public funds allocated to social housing in Slovakia, Socialni Inovatori contributes to matching these organisations’ needs by carrying out accurate market research and ensuring the integration of sustainable solutions in the business model being created. By targeting financial provision for affordable housing to vulnerable groups, the organisation not only provides quality housing to the inhabitants, but also favours the establishment of amenities around the area. This ultimately allows for the development of a fully-fledged community, improving not only the quality of housing, but also the quality of life.

Social Housing Vienna

Housing the many

“Housing is first of all a Human Right, not a trading good on the stock market”

The unique work of the City of Vienna in the field of societal and affordable housing has been ongoing for over a century now and it shows that, if there is political incentive, the public sector can contribute plenty to solving such a prominent social issue. By coupling housing market regulation with the concept of housing as a basic right, the City of Vienna brought a pioneering example to the vastly international audience of our training, who could compare the contribution to the systems adopted by their own local governments. The visit to Karl Marx Hof after the training showed in practice the functionality of such a system.

An ambitious mission

Neunerimmo, a non-profit subsidiary to the Vienna-based social organisation Neunerhaus, is founded on the idea of ending homelessness in Vienna altogether. To do so, they developed Housing First, a programme that bridges the real estate business with social organisations, to ultimately support homeless people in directly finding a house, instead of passing through emergency and transitional accommodation, also absolving the person of the homelessness stigma. Today, the programme is embedded in the strategy of the Vienna Social Fund (FSW), controlled by the City of Vienna.

“I like to believe that it is possible, it just needs to be mobilised”