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Conference examines good, bad in recent social housing practices

September 17, 2008

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BUDAPEST, HUNGARY (17 September 2008)
– Experts from around the world will gather in Budapest on UN-World Habitat Day to discuss the best and worst in recent social housing practices and philosophies in Eastern and Central Europe.

“Options for Social Rental Housing in the Central and East European Region” will feature frank dialogue and dissertations from researchers, policymakers and practitioners analyzing trends, data and real-world case studies in the emerging social-housing sector in former socialist states.

“Bringing together the analytical and practical approaches to social housing in the region will help us understand the diverse successes and failures and how we might forge better social housing policies in the future,” said Jozsef Hegedus, director of Budapest-based Metropolitan Research Institute, which is organizing the event with the Council of Europe.

Fittingly, the two-day conference begins on the United Nations-designated World Habitat Day, an observance that not only reflects on the state of the world’s housing crisis but also urges us to take responsibility for the future of the human habitat. The conference’s key sponsors include the Hungarian Ministry of Local Government, Habitat for Humanity, HOLCIM Hungary and LGI. Co-sponsors are CECODHAS, ENHR and FEANTSA.

Social Housing has been a critical issue since the 1990s when the structural changes in Central and Eastern Europe led to increased income inequalities. Governments “withdrew” from the housing sector which meant cutting housing-related subsidy programs, privatization and a decline of new construction. Housing affordability has become a problem for vulnerable, low-income and even middle-income groups in the region. The past eight years have witnessed the “renaissance” of social housing, which is being “brought back” to the government agenda.

More than 50 participants from universities, think tanks, local governments and NGOs will gather at the conference to discuss topics including national housing strategies, national rental housing programs, and social housing experiences in transitional countries.

About Habitat for Humanity International
Habitat for Humanity International is an ecumenical Christian ministry that welcomes to its work all people dedicated to the cause of eliminating poverty housing. Since its founding in 1976, Habitat has built, rehabilitated and repaired nearly 300,000 houses worldwide, providing simple, decent and affordable shelter for 1.5 million people.

In Europe and Central Asia Habitat for Humanity International works in 19 countries, building and repairing houses, offering housing microfinance services, improving water and sanitation, working on disaster response and advocating for affordable housing, all with families in need. In this region, Habitat has served more than 4,600 families together with volunteers and homeowners. Find out more at www.habitateurope.org.

Contact:
Eddie Byrd
Communications Director
Habitat for Humanity Europe and Central Asia
Office:   +421 2 336 690 00
E-mail: ebyrd@habitat.org