How to look out for low-income households when renovating?


Paris’ actions to fight gentrification and renoviction

Following the EU Green Deal and the EU Renovation Wave initiative, many countries and municipalities are implementing ambitious renovation strategies. What these strategies oftentimes lack is an action plan for overcoming challenges associated with social housing, segregation, and renoviction (eviction after renovation). Low-income households are the most vulnerable to displacement after renovation, and it is up to policy makers to ensure that it does not happen.

The most vulnerable groups of society are often caught in a vicious circle – the low quality, outdated housing is poorly isolated causing high energy bills and making people fall deeper into energy poverty. How can we do more to protect and increase the affordability of our housing stock while also carrying out ambitious energy renovations?

Safeguarding low-income households while achieving high level renovations

Prioritising housing occupied by the low-income consumers in the local renovation strategies is a starting point. Energy renovation is one of the main priorities for the city of Paris. The city is committed to preventing social segregation between districts by facilitating social mix.

With an ambitious Climate Plan, Paris has set out to renew deprived areas of the city and eradicate run-down housing while also fighting the effect of global warming. They approved a set of ambitious measures to achieve their social housing renovation goals:

  • Social housing must account for 30% of the total floor space of every new private construction project.
  • The city is allowed to exercise a pre-emptive right (right to buy first) and thus obtain more property for creating more publicly owned social housing.
  • Increased support to encourage new ways of living together, especially targeting those who are not entitled to social housing (such as students, young workers, single-parent families, mobile professionals).The new “Co-Habitat Plan 2020-2032” supports associations working to offer intergenerational joint occupancy, a way to reduce isolation of elderly people and help them keeping their homes while also providing affordable housing solutions for younger people with low or intermedium income. Also, new housing programmes are currently being developed with the joint occupancy model in mind: some agencies are offering individual leasers for each tenant of jointly rented homes.
  • Converting underused or empty buildings (offices, schools, garages) into social and affordable homes. The city has many examples of successful transformation projects. For example, the Reinventing Paris initiative was a very successful call for innovative ideas to transform 23 sites in Paris owned by the city into housing. A more recent project of Paris Habitat and Foncière de Transformation Immobilière is planning to renovate more than 2,500 m2 to create 18 social and intermediate family housing units as well as a commercial area, with the ambition to further promote the reuse of existing structures and architectural elements.
  • Support also for private property eco-renovations. On top of offering subsidies for private condominium retrofits, there is also an effective tool The Coach Copro® providing information and support for citizens looking to undertake energy renovations, as well as a directory of professionals for eco-renovation.

While building renovations bring important energy saving and climate benefits, we must make sure it does not happen at the expense of the most vulnerable.  Paris is showing how renovation policies can be a way to promote heathier living spaces, community building and inclusivity.

This article was inspired by The Affordable Housing Initatives’ study visit to Paris hosted by Paris habitat, a social and affordable housing provider.




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