All EU countries are facing a critical shortage of housing. Well, except for Finland, for some reason. Nevertheless, a 2017 report by the European Federation of National Organisations Working with the Homeless shows that housing problems have reached crisis point in the vast majority of European countries. Young people in particular are struggling, with many stuck living with their parents and with little prospect of getting on the property ladder anytime soon.

Roughly half of young people in the EU currently spend more than 40% of their disposable income on housing. In some countries the situation is even more dire, with 78% of young people in Denmark and 65% in Germany spending over 40% of their disposable income on keeping a roof over their heads. Finland has apparently bucked the trend by investing in long-term programmes over the last two decades to provide more affordable housing and specialised support for vulnerable people.

So, how can we all be more like Finland? We had a comment sent in from Sherrie, who wants to see governments offer more affordable housing in Europe. So, what practical steps could EU governments do to tackle the problem of affordable housing?

To get a response, we spoke to Julien Dijol, Deputy Secretary General & Policy Coordinator at Housing Europe

Next up, we had a comment from Duncan, who blames Europe’s housing crisis on three things: a lack of space for new buildings, a lack of government investment, and immigration. Is he right?

Finally, we had a comment from Andrea who would like to see the EU do something about the housing crisis. Is this an area the EU can do anything about? Or is it more up to national governments?

How can Europe solve its housing crisis? What are the root causes of the housing crisis across the continent? Is this an area the EU can do anything about? Or is it more up to national governments? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

IMAGE CREDITS: CC / Flickr – bennilover
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41 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. Uli Czeranka

    The issue exists since years but all I see here are comments blaming refugees who stay in mass facilities outside of cities. Well done

    • Karolina

      Uli, no one is blaming refugees. If the problem has existed for years, importing a million of people was not going to help solve it. It was going to make it worse. This is what we are saying.

  2. Andrzej Ciesla

    Former DDR lands ,near Polish border many empty houses.Russia-it is possible to buy an house on village 200$.

  3. Enric Mestres Girbal

    Maybe if the governments (from town halls to prime ministers) were building more houses for their citizens instead of spending the money in their own benefit or in capitalist building companies. As for inmigrants, in every country there are hundrets of villages deserted that could accomodate them. I suppose among so many thousends there are builders, electricians, plumbers, farmers, etc.etc.that could help and be self suficient.

    • César García

      Why living and working in a small village, when you can live without working in a big city? Not so easy to work in a small village,,,, you need knowledge and adapt to the particularities of farming and growing cattle in the area…in my case, my region is mountains. Many deserted villages. But you have to be Asturian to live here…country life is ver hard in my region….and city life,,,easy. Specially when you get a goverment check without working.

  4. Paul X

    “Is this an area the EU can do anything about?” what the hell exactly can the EU do about it except make it worse by leaching more money from the taxpayers?

    The basic fact is National governments need to spend more on social and affordable housing, what good will it do to have this money diverted via the EU where they will just syphon off some to restock their wine seller then return whats left in the form of some form of “common housing policy”……. and then no doubt expect the governments to show gratitude by putting a blue starred plaque on every house

  5. Alexander

    Why there are practically no tower blocks in western europe? All I see is maximum 5-stores buildings, with only a few office tower blocks. In eastern europe, mostly because of Soviet legacy, there are countless cheap flats in high buildings, which limits the urban sprawl.

    • Karolina

      Plenty of tower blocks in the West, Alexander. One of them burnt through almost entirely in London a few weeks ago.

  6. James Chater

    The problem is the huge gap between economic hotspots (London, Paris etc.) and areas of economic stagnation such as rural France and parts of NE England, Wales etc. This forces many to chose between a job and grotty/expensive housing or no job and all the houses you want (assuming you can afford them), as houses in the stagnant areas are the only affordable ones. To tackle this you need denser housing in the hotspots of regeneration of stagnating areas, or both.

  7. benjamin weenen

    Housing affordability issues for part of society, excessive inequalities and dysfunction in the housing market are caused when land values are capitalised into rental incomes and selling prices.

    These issues can thus be solved instantly and permanently with a 100% tax on the rental value of land which will end that capitalisation.

    Increasing supply will not drop aggregate land values to zero, thus capitalisation and affordability/inequality issues will continue to exist. It will also increase existing inefficiencies and dysfunction in the housing market adding to costs.

    Economic injustice is the root cause of these issues problems not a lack of supply in the housing market. If we only treat the symptoms instead to curing the problem, then we’ll carry on having these issues and adding new ones elsewhere.

  8. Enric Mestres Girbal

    You know european governments will not return migrants/refugees so give them a chance to start a new life and adapt to our lands. Unfortunatly governements are scare of so many ONGs pro migrants and prefer to ignore the problems they cause and give them all the facilities denied to their own nationals.

    • Roberto Bonafè

      A new life with working and without money from State? They will alls return to Africa

    • Enric Mestres Girbal

      No, the State should help and surely they would spend less money then now with so many ships on the search, migrants camps, etc.

  9. Sentikiotis Phaedon

    Nature whenever has the chance lowers down the entropy. (Universal law) Countries are very far away from whatever must be done.Ancient Greeks had an expression to lower down the entropy “Mhden Agan” Nothing exadurated and nothing less from whatever must be done.This way they created very good constructions with less money. The value of cities must be kept in high standards.It must be recognized the optimum space of housing depending from the members of their ages.The above spaces must be taxed the less spaces must support the families to succeed the optimum spaces. Rules of sustainability must be kept. The constructions must keep their value while the time is passing. Money for this purpose can be found. Pericles used to say ” We see upon money as an opportunity for creating excellent constructions using simple material and not for collecting it just for manipulating conditions.

    • Karolina

      In ancient Athens there was a widespread problem with people building houses outside of the town plan. These houses would often block natural streams and after a heavy rain would be the cause of flooding. Sounds familiar?

  10. eusebio manuel vestias pecurto

    Rights rights rights European

  11. Alex Pereira

    start by getting rid of the thousands of the aribnbs- and give back the nicest areas to the locals (oldtown, downton, unesco heritage etc sites). Tax foreign investors and/or pass land and cultural heritage discriminatory laws for those willing to speculate. Invest significant amounts of money giving people incentives to move to rural areas and secondary cities. Article is packed with generalisations though.. “all countries in Europe” – yes but only in certain areas. “Young people in particular are struggling, with many stuck living with their parents and with little prospect of getting on the property ladder anytime soon.” – lame excuse, inaccurate and by far not the main or only reason. “Roughly half of young people in the EU currently spend more than 40% of their disposable income on housing. In some countries the situation is even more dire, with 78% of young people in Denmark and 65% in Germany spending over 40% of their disposable income on keeping a roof over their heads” – please educate the readers if this spending refers to renting or buying. Major cities in Europe (Madrid, Barcelona, Porto, Lisbon, Paris etc) have a property bubble due to vulture funds which preyed on the property market during the financial crisis on the one hand, and market speculation/credit trap for those who are investing to convert every sqm into tourist accomodation. If you’re writing an article on this it would be worth getting your facts straight and perhaps mention these insignificant things

  12. Sharon Bishop

    Funny how the government is rehousing all the migrants and refugees like a click of a finger that tells me we have not got a housing issue but you let all the British people homeless on the street Wells all these migrants and refugees come in and get rehoused straight away

  13. Karolina

    By giving as much of it as possible to Syrians, Nigerians and other non-Europeans.

  14. Stefania Portici

    la UE meno fa e meglio è , se ci troviamo inguaiati è stata la UE ad inguaiarci. La vita prima della UE era bella , adesso no, la UE ha rovinato la vita a tutti. Le case non vanno deprezzate , va tolta la DISOCCUPAZIONE , la gente DEVE LAVORARE ed ESSERE PAGATA , poi va agevolata per COMPERARSI CASA e per mantenerla ( la casa di abitazione è un bene primario e non va tassata ) , come era prima. L’unica cosa che non può andar via da un Paese sono le case e allora che fa per succhiare gli abitanti ? Le tassa non se ne può più della UE. Cosa dobbiamo chiedere alla UE ? Di fare meno danni , ne ha fatti troppi, ha rovinato la vita degli europei , la nostra sicuramente.
    The EU does less, and it is better if we find ourselves slammed, the EU has been ingested. Life before the EU was beautiful, now no, the EU has ruined life at all. Houses should not be depreciated, MISSING, MUST BE WORKED AND BE PAIDED, then it must be facilitated to BUY HOUSE and to keep it (the home is a primary good and it is not taxed) as it was before. The only thing that can not get away from a country is the houses and then what does it do to suck the inhabitants? The tax can not be more than the EU. What should we ask the EU? Doing less damage, doing too much, ruining the lives of Europeans, ours certainly

    • Stefania Portici

      i Paesi europei non avevano i senzatetto, prima della UE non ci stavano , tranne in Inghilterra che li hanno un’altra visione di vita e forse anche in Francia ; ci sono adesso i senzatetto non perchè non ci sono le case o perchè ci sono gli immigrati, ma perchè non può permettersela per una questione legata al lavoro . I senzatetto non devono esserci , l’uomo vuole la dignità non l’elemosina, quella chiede. Se una persona chiede il pane non puoi dargli un sasso

    • Stefania Portici

      quale banca al mondo dà un mutuo per comperare casa ad una persona che ha un lavoro precario e instabile ? NESSUNA e chi lo fa non è schietta sta derubando l’inquilino ( le classiche fregature che inventano e vendono le banche inglesi alle banche di tutto il mondo ) una persona per bene non cerca le banche truffaldine e comprende la banca seria che NON EROGA in mancanza di requisiti . La UE ha creato disoccupazione , lavoro precario, sottopagato …incredibile quanti danni ha fatto la UE., ha scoraggiato i giovani a farsi una famiglia i figli, il futuro. Avevamo tanti sogni e la UE ci ha dato l’inferno

    • Stefania Portici

      le persone vogliono lavorare ed essere pagate. Non puoi darle per legge ” tanto guadagna e tanto spende” ( cioè non permettergli il risparmio). Devi dargli la possibilità di soddisfare i suoi bisogni con il lavoro . Sono i sogni da realizzare nella vita a dare voglia e gioia alla vita . Se una persona desidera un pezzo di orto perchè vuole passare la vecchiaia a contatto con la natura ….è quel sogno che lo ha spinto a lavorare tutta la vita per comperarselo . Se lo fai lavorare nell’incertezza ( oggi lavoro mangio , domani non si sa = non posso avere bambini = non ho sogni da tramandare e cose da lasciare ) )e lo stipendio che gli dai alla fine del mese lo lasci sempre a zero, gli hai rubato il sogno, gli hai rubato la vita. Rendi la società egoista ed apatica , non va bene è triste

  15. Graham Hinkin

    Stop the insurgence from coming, send back the ones that have landed in Europe in the last five years.

  16. Joseph Krukowski

    There is no housing crisis. There are thousands and thousands abandoned houses and whole villages in Baltic countries, in rural areas of the rest of Europe, especially in Eastern Europe.

  17. Panos Mantzaris

    Houses are expensive because of the relationship Median Earnings/Rent.

    Biggest problem on the cost side is Land Values.

    Land Values are high because of Zoning Regulations. Instead of allowing a drop in Land Values and allowing building in available spaces or promoting development in less densely populated areas, the system chooses to tax more and create further crowding in metropolitan areas.

    This is a stupid analysis.

  18. catherine benning

    End all immigration and return those who have arrived since 2001 to their lands of origin.

    There they can work to create what it is they see and want in Europe. The struggle is theirs not ours. We already overcome the horror they are leaving. We too were once enslaved. We fought our way out of it. And they must do what we did. Not move to infest our homelands with what they now want to leave behind.

  19. Saurav

    The time has come to invest on European housing by Real Estate not by government.Let’s make Real Estate business to flourish in Europe. They will built many new houses for the sake of business and young kids buy at affordable rate. If we start by today, there will be housing boom in Europe in next 10 yeara as we witnesses in Europe!

  20. elp

    i live in sofia (the capital city of bulgaria) and as far as i am concerned we have really poor urban planning. in particular, there are central parts of the town that are populated with really poor people, illegal immigrants or gypsy families that also reside in these properties illegally. those people can not afford to take care of the houses so the buildings are in devastating condition, for the most part, and it actually is quite unpleasant walking around them. this damages the entire look of those areas and makes them very unsafe and full of criminal and shady activity, and what bothers me the most about that issue is the fact that this isn’t even a slum/ghetto, but is instead located in the center of the capital! i find that absurd!

    in my opinion there should be regulations regarding those buildings that are located in central areas and it should be obligatory for the owners to renovate the facades of their properties. i know it is harsh but in my view property rights ought to be taken from owners who cannot afford to support the outer appearance of their home in some standardized fashion, so that the city center looks good, feels safe and is actually a place where many more young professionals can live, instead of living in the outskirts and commuting to the central parts to work, study and engage in leisure activities, while the really central neighbourhoods are being populated with gypsies, refugees and people with poor education, small incomes and obviously bad landlord habits.

    in general sofia truly has much to do in regard of urban planning and development and many more housing opportunities could be available to all kinds of people – both bulgarian citizens, and foreigners – if the buildings we already do have are being kept in good state and put to optimal use, instead of being left to rot and, actually, fall on pedestrians’s heads (as has occurred in more than one occasion…).

  21. Anonymous

    Step 1: Stop letting politicians “fix” problems.
    Step 2: Start fixing your own problem.
    Step 3: Realize that land in Europe is more crowded and therefore more valuable (due to higher demand). And learn basic economics.
    Step 4: Let private companies profit. Then they will be motivated to build more housing (up if they can’t go out), and the greater availability will eventually drive the price down until a balance is reached.

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