Social Housing- from South America to the Med

Source: Jose Samuel Alonso Molina¸ PKF Malta

As published on The Malta Today on Wednesday 19th February 2013



For those who are unfamiliar with the term¸ social housing is a term used throughout programs in the promotion of housing tenements for rent or for sale either by the state¸ non-profit-making organizations¸ or a combination of the two¸ usually with the end goal of facilitating access to affordable housing in the lower-income earning demographic of a given population.

Social housing programs are not a novel concept and we can see many examples around the world. In Europe one can highlight the case of the Netherlands where in many cities such as Amsterdam¸ The Hague¸ Rotterdam and Utrecht social housing is a statistic that approaches or even exceeds 50%. These types of habitats are known there as ‘huurwoningen sociale’¸ literally translated ‘social rental housing’. Another successful example in Europe is Catalonia in Spain. Here there is a program for the housing rights of 2009-2012¸ in which the public housing policy and promotion of the rehabilitation of buildings is encouraged. The opposition leader in UK Miliband wants to reach his target of 200¸000 homes by inducing a major expansion of council housing once elected to government. His party has promised to “simplify rules surrounding the Housing Revenue Account to give local authorities more flexibility in how existing public funding is spent”. It is good to read that the Chartered Institute of Housing estimates that raising the caps by £7bn could enable the construction of 60¸000 homes over the next five years¸ creating 23¸500 jobs and adding £5.6bn to the British economy. Is the opposition leader in UK trying to copy the example of France¸ where more than half of new homes are constructed by their owners. Miliband will call for a “self-build” revolution to reduce the dominance of the big four developers and to help expand supply in areas where there are most shortages.

Crossing continents we can also highlight the success had by social housing programs in the case of Minha Casa Minha Vida in Brazil. This program offers various facilities such as discounts¸ bank loans¸ allowances as well as reductions in the value of mortgage insurance. Through these incentives lower-income families are given the possibility to become home-owners¸ a status desired by most. Despite the program not having been without a nuance of corruption which saw scandals permeate the program¸ the venture has been a megalithic success with upwards of 1.4 million homes having been built. The Minha Casa Minha Vida program aims to build the second phase¸ 2 million houses and apartments by 2014.

The program is for families who have a gross income of up to R$ 5¸000.00 (1517.90 €); the program offers some facilities¸ such as¸ discounts¸ allowances and reduction in the value of mortgage insurance. If the family has gross income greater than R $ 5¸000.00¸ they can buy property financed and even use their FGTS¸ but not participate in the Minha Casa Minha Vida. The result was more income for worker