Credit: Lynn Theisen

On Wednesday 11 and Thursday 12 May 2022, Luxembourg's Ministry of Housing organised its first "Assises du Logement" meetings with various groups and actors in the area of housing to discuss the policies, reforms and instruments put in place to accelerate the creation of affordable housing.

About 170 attendees including municipal officials, public developers, associations dedicated to access to housing and housing advisers exchanged views during workshops and thematic conferences.

For two days, the affordable housing partners had intensive and fruitful discussions, on the one hand about the progress of the Housing Pact 2.0 (Pacte Logement 2.0), and on the other about the reform of the 1979 law concerning social assistance to housing with the "affordable housing" bill. The Ministry of Housing said that it had benefitted from the feedback from experts and actors in the field.

The first day of the "Assises du Logement" meeting was dedicated to an exchange with the councilors and representatives of the municipalities on the implementation of the Housing Pact 2.0. It was an opportunity to take stock of the implementation of the new pact and its instruments. Nearly 100 municipalities have signed their initial agreement with the ministry. Since then, together with the housing advisers, the municipalities have been developing their municipal housing strategy in the form of the local housing action programme (programme d'action local - PAL). The first PAL has already been sent to the Ministry of Housing and reveals the different facets and challenges of housing at municipal level.

I call on all municipalities to continue in this proactive dynamic and to quickly finalise their PAL so that the measures adopted can be put in place as quickly as possible. It is only with the municipalities that we can advance the supply of public, affordable and sustainable housing,” said Henri Kox, Minister of Housing.

In addition, Minister Kox noted the importance of article 29bis in the amended law of 19 July 2004 concerning municipal planning and urban development, which provides for the introduction of an automatic mechanism allowing the transfer to the public hand of 10% to 20% of building land in return for an increase in building potential. In order to mobilise more building land, for the Minister of Housing, other instruments must follow such as the "Baulandvertrag", the ministerial consolidation and the reform of the property tax.

A lecture by Thomas Bauer and Gabriele Gehm from the Bau AG Kaiserslautern provided an example of the “Bielefelder Modell” making it possible to combine the establishment of “district facilitators” with support for the demographic transition. According to the Housing Ministry, this model reinforces in an exemplary way the inclusive accompaniment for a better coexistence in the urban or village neighbourhood. The day of discussion around the Housing Pact 2.0 ended with a round table devoted to the same subject.

The second day of the meeting was devoted to the reform of housing assistance and the introduction of new instruments and concepts of affordable housing. Discussions with promoters and social landlords (Housing Fund, SNHBM, municipalities, associations and social offices) made it possible to specify details and answer questions relating to the role of the social landlord, the specifications for assistance and financial compensation for the services of the lessor and the social promoter.

The other topic of the day was the challenges of Social Rental Management (Gestion locative sociale - GLS). The ministry described this as an effective instrument for mobilising vacant homes in order to rent them below private market prices. Currently, almost 1,100 homes are made available to lower-income households.

Around discussion tables, representatives of the Ministry of Housing and their GLS partners shared their thoughts on making this high-potential instrument even more attractive for landlords who make their housing available to social actors. At the same time, according to the ministry, it is also a question of finding solutions to better support the associations in their work of supporting GLS tenants.

The first national meeting for affordable housing in Luxembourg was deemed a success for all participants. This constructive and participatory dialogue between the Ministry of Housing and its partners will be sustained in order to make better progress in realising the right to housing for all.

The next meeting will take place the during National Housing Week in October 2022.