Ground Breaking Funding Concepts in Italy’s Social Housing Sector


milan aaaThis is the second in a series of 3 articles about the Fondazione Housing Sociale Non-Profit in Italy. Special thanks to Chiara Rizzica for providing the context and material for this article.   To read part I- click here.

Building and financing social housing is an exercise in patience and diligence.  Finding the funds, choosing the right projects and building meaningful communities is not something that happens overnight.  In Italy, the Fondazione Housing Sociale is working across the country with multiple partners in a way that might revolutionize the way all of us work someday.

Financing Schemes:

Fondazione Housing Sociale FHS is not a Banking Foundation; it is a “traditional” foundation  which works using its own resources to reach the goals within its social mission.  FHS was created in 2004 by Fondazione Cariplo – one of the world’s main philanthropic organizations, whose mission is to act as a resource that helps social and civil organizations serve their community better. Among the FHS’s founders were also “Regione Lombardia” (Milan area County Council) and “ANCI Lombardia” (Association of Lombardy’s Muncipalities), underlying the public/private partnership that characterizes the project.

Ethical Real Estate Funding:

Following a long period of study and analysis, FHS identified the “ethical real-estate fund” as being the most suitable instrument for implementing social and affordable housing projects in Italy.   The first fund was set up in 2007 – the “Fondo Abitare Sociale 1” (Social Housing Fund 1) to implement social and affordable housing projects in Lombardy.  In 2009 a Government movement the “Piano Nazionale di Edilizia Abitativa” (National Plan for Social and Affordable Housing Construction) created a unique national and local funding package.  This was an integrated system meant to invest in real estate funds with capped return that would promote the development of rental housing.

Today the Integrated Funds System consists of a national fund and the investment fund for Housing worth € 2.028 Bn.  The Ministry of Infrastructure and Transportation provides another 1 billion as well as private banking companies and insurance companies which add nearly 90 million.  As of December 2016, there are 31 approved local funds spread throughout Italy with 9 different local asset management companies. The money must be spent by 2021 with the potential to realize over 270 projects, which would allow exceeding 20.000 social housing units and 8.500 beds in temporary and students’ accommodation.  Fondazione Housing Sociale acts as  the social and technical advisor of FIA.

Integration of Thought is Key:

The virtuous intersection of three crucial policy dimensions – housing, urban and social policies – are redrawing the boundaries of local welfare in Italy. The model’s main novelty consists in the synergy of three innovative elements: the ethical real estate fund, the public/private partnership and the collaborative governance system established in the new housing settlements. In addition to the various building aspects, FHS pays even closer attention to the social dimension of place-making while developing strategies and instruments to accelerate the natural process of community evolution.  This includes undertaking a journey with tenants to establish a high level of trust and collaboration in planning and managing shared services and communal spaces.


Funding, designing and building social housing is an amazing journey that is often filled with many challenges.  The models, concepts and innovations being applied in Italy are beyond exciting.  All social housing providers should take note and see if what is happening in Italy might be applicable back in your own countries.




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s