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.
- 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).
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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.”
- 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
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.