#Housing2030 at the 2022 International Social Housing Festival in Helsinki

01 Oct 2023


The lead writer of the #Housing2030 report – led by Housing Europe, the UNECE, and UN-HABITAT – Julie Lawson made a powerful intro to the devastating impact that financialisation and speculation have on our housing systems. She pointed out that even if we have seen enormous growth in mortgage credit, this has not led to the growth in new housing supply. So, is there an alternative to asset-based welfare? This is what we discussed in the ‘Tools to tame financialisation’ session at Helsinki City Hall.

Julie Lawson went on to saying that governments have lost their confidence or forgotten how to shape better markets and would rather let the market rip than rip into the market. ‘This has been due to a number of factors, primarily constraints on public investment, Competition Policy, the Maastricht Treaty, and the Growth and Stability Pact, which held back public investments all these policies and rules of thumb are subject to debate,’ she said.

Professor Michelle Norris from University College of Dublin explained how does financialization reduce housing affordability. First, increasing flows of capital into housing meet fixed land supply and inelastic housing supply. Secondly, new circuits of finance enable commercial investment in housing and enable speculation. Thirdly, non-profit circuits of finance and finance for social and affordable housing reduce or disappear. Fourthly, finance for commercial investment and speculation is free or ‘cheap’. Finally, finance for low-income households is less available and more expensive.  

Instead of putting a plaster over the cracks, Professor Norris said that we have to actively shape the housing markets in the direction we want as a society. The #Housing2030 report is providing multiple tools to governments to do that.

We know that the ongoing financialisation of housing can be a tremendously complex topic. To make it more understandable, Housing Europe, together with the writers of the report have launched new series that offers tools on how we can tame this phenomenon. Tune in! 

Download the presentation.


The second afternoon of the festival was an exciting one for the participants of the festival who attended the workshop co-organised by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and Housing Europe. The focus point of the event was the #Housing2030 report that looks at land policy, decarbonisation of homes, sustainable finance and better governance while ensuring housing affordability. This publication is the initiative of three global institutions: UNECE, UN-Habitat, and Housing Europe. Sorcha Edwards, the Secretary-General of Housing Europe said that: ‘Climate change became an existential problem, among other challenges, and we need to use the report as a toolkit to help us adapt and make sure that no one is left behind’.

The presentation of the report was followed by two panels. The first one revolved around best practices at local level on affordable climate-neutral housing. Examples from Paris, Barcelona, or cities in the United Kingdom, Eastern Europe or the United States were presented, all using innovative solutions such as reusing metal containers.

From the second panel, the shared practices focused more on the national level, as the speakers presented the regulation in place and available solutions from very different contexts: Slovenia and Slovakia have to manage a housing stock that is mostly privately owned, while the Netherlands need to speed up the renovations to meet the 2050 goals. In Malta the interior design seems to be an important need of the tenants, while in the USA the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development supports technological innovation such as heat pumps.