10 Large Public Housing Providers Across Europe

Europe is known for its rich and strong social housing history.  All across Europe, countries provide varying levels of social housing support . Is social housing the same in every country in Europe?  Nope.  That much is clear. Despite the lack of common definition, lets examine some of the big players in several countries.

  1.  Netherlands: Vestia: 80,000 units – formally Stichting Vestia is the biggest social housing corporation (Dutch: Woningcorporatie) in the Netherlands.  The headquarters is located in Rotterdam and the housing corporation rents close to 80,000 units and 8,000 other shops.  The history of Vestia in the last couple of years is interesting.  There were some issues with investments but the ship seems to be headed in the right direction.  More info on this – see here To visit Vestia’s website click here (Warning in Dutch).

    rotterdam-1611943_1920.jpg
    Rotterdam, Netherlands
  2. France: Paris Habitat: 124,000 units.  This social housing agency was created in 1914 and is the largest of its kind in France.  Paris Habitat has 124,000 social housing in the Paris metro area. “Paris Habitat operates in three key areas: renewing city – buildings, renovating and maintaining its properties – accepting the application of and housing low income households, improving community cohesion and neighborliness.”  The company employs almost 3,000 staff to manage and maintain the gigantic portfolio.  There is some English language material available here
  3. Germany:  SAGA: 130,000 units – Located in Hamburg Germany, SAGA has 130,000 units within its portfolio.  Like the companies above, one must understand that social housing in Germany is not the same as social housing in the USA, the UK or other countries.  There is not really a good definiton that fits all of social housing in Europe.  In lieu of giving the background, I invite you to read an article I wrote in 2015 about social housing in Hamburg

    elbe-philharmonic-hall-2211103_1920.jpg
    Hamburg, Germany
  4. Scotland: Wheatley Group: 40,000-60,000 units??  The Wheatley Group is comprised of several social housing agencies that have come under the umbrella of the Wheatley Group.  The largest member is the Glasgow Housing Authority.  The group provides housing to around 200,000 people.  I did not find an actual housing unit count but 40,000 units are within the Glasgow portfolio alone.   You can find out more here
  5. Italy: ATC Piemonte Centrale: 33,000 units.  This housing provider has around 33,000 units in its portfolio.   ATC is providing housing for the cities in the province of Turin.  The company employs around 400 staff but I would imagine must do a good deal of contracting to cover maintenance/renovation costs.  Find out more here-  Here is a rough translation of what I believe to be part of their mission.  “The Territorial Agency for the House of the Province of Turin, former IACP, is a public body which pursues the public interest identified with the social obligation of providing cheap apartments to be made available categories of less affluent citizens and provide for the administration and the management of its assets and what is entrusted by other public bodies.”
  6. Portugal: Gebalis City of Lisbon: 23,000 units.  According to myself, the largest social housing provider in Portugal is the city of Lisbon.  Click here  I spent some time with folks in Lisbon back in 2015 and found my article when I was researching (googling) for this blog.  They own/operate around 23,000 units and house around 64,000 inhabitants.   Visit the website here

    lisbon-838620_1920.jpg
    Lisbon, Portugal
  7. Belgium: SLRB Brussels: 39,000 units. The information I found shows that this organization owns/operates around 39,000 units in the Brussels area.  Our friends at Housing Europe have a little bit of information here  If your French is up to Paar, take a shot at their website here.
  8.  Sweden: Svenska Bostäder -Stockholm: 50,000 units. Swedish Housing was founded in 1944 and is one of the biggest housing companies in Sweden. Since 1944 Svenska Bostader has built over 50,000 apartments in Stockholm and some of the neighboring municipalities.  They offer their website in both Swedish and English here
  9. Austria: The City of Vienna: 220,000 units. Vienna’s social housing stock is extremely high at 220,000 units.  There is a lot of high quality history and information about how Vienna developed its social housing infrastructure over the years.  I recommend this article  for in in depth analysis-    If your German is up to snuff, a good article explains why Vienna is a renter’s paradise.

    city-707152_1920.jpg
    Vienna, Austria
  10. Denmark (FSB Copenhagen): 12,000 units.  I could be off on this but I do believe FSB to be Copenhagen’s largest provider of social housing.  They provide housing for low income families, seniors and those with disabilities.   You can visit their page here- 

What did I miss?  Are there some larger social housing providers in other countries that I did not account for?  Finding information on Eastern European social housing providers is not easy.  Leave a note or comment.

Author: jcrites

Josh Crites is an American social housing professional with both practical and research experience. He has worked at 3 social housing companies in the USA in roles ranging from policy and operations to process improvement and strategy. Josh is a former Alexander von Humboldt German Chancellor Fellow. During that fellowship, Josh researched and worked with social housing companies in Germany, The Netherlands, Portugal, Scotland, England, Estonia and Spain. He is an avid writer and advocate for the provision of social housing around the world.

2 Replies to “10 Large Public Housing Providers Across Europe”

  1. Hi josh
    Clarion group in England has around 120,000 homes. It is a non profit housing association operating nationally after several waves of mergers.

  2. Excellent insight as always Josh! – as an employee hopefully I can try to add a bit more info regards the Wheatley Group. It’s main partner is Glasgow Housing Association in partnership with Cube Housing Association, Loretto Housing Association, Loretto Care Group, Barony Housing & Care Group, Dunedin & Canmore Housing Association, West Lothian Housing Partnership and a property management factor subsidiary called; Your Place (with over 27,000 home owners under it’s management).

    The group spans across West and Central Scotland and has over 250,000 customers combined. More recently, Wheatley entered into a £3.7bn Joint Venture with Glasgow City Council by sharing 50% of City Building Glasgow LLC, a building trades services major contractor. This deal has secured over 2000 trades jobs and hopes to provide over 80 apprenticeships per year over its 30 year plan. Wheatley collectively have active newbuild development programmes onsite constantly and it is difficult to put an exact figure on the groups stock at present, please do just send an email to the groups communications team and, giving the hard work you put in raising awareness in the sector across the US and beyond, I’m sure all questions you have will be met (and they are a really friendly bunch too!).

    I pop on LinkedIn occasionally and have caught your blog for some good insight across the globe. Thanks for this, it is very admirable sir and I wish you nothing but more and more success in your work.

    I lived and worked in Florida for a few years and recall questioning my US family (mainly lawyers and business people) but I found little knowledge of any trades (construction) apprenticeship system in the US. (awareness of this too can only bring much added benefit to future business and in training future generations to look after your property assets).

    (This came about in conversation when I told my legal family of the story about Lawyers in London giving up their legal careers to opt for a 6 month college course on servicing heating systems which could guarantee earnings then of over £100-£150k per year self employed.., I was baffled that this was not a sound option for kids to pursue and choose to leave school/college at 16 or 17 years old to concentrate on a college/employer nationally recognised trades apprenticeship programme).

    In my experience, for the greater social good, it’s admirable to ensure contractor’s drive a truck and not a ferrari, (in high demand (skills shortages), they will all drive the latter).., the UK is set up well for trades apprenticeships, Central Governments should always be looking ahead to help its third sector partners by investing more in our work with training opportunities for all in our communities and raising awareness of exciting building craft college apprenticeships for the generations to come (our properties will forever need maintained, and over the plan, our best electricians or carpenters may not even be born yet) – Just my tuppence worth my friend, the field of work has many tentacles across multiple obstacles, collectively US, UK, Germany or anywhere, my hat is tipped to everyone in the sector for all the continuing and good work done. All the best in your continued endeavors Josh and thanks again sir, – Barry (Glasgow, UK).

    Ps if there is any typo’s in the aforementioned chat, too late I need to get the dinner ready! 🙂

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: