Flanders to help low-income households with energy-efficient renovations

Flanders to help low-income households with energy-efficient renovations
House insulation help reduce the cost of energy bills. Credit: Belga/ Nicolas Maeterlinck

In light of the unprecedented rise in energy prices, the Flemish government is freeing up a large budget to help low-income households renovate so-called "emergency homes" via the Public Centres for Social Welfare (OCMWs).

While the cost of living crisis is now also claiming victims among the lower middle class in Belgium, it is having an even bigger effect on low-income families in poorly insulated homes. Many are now faced with choosing between heating their homes and buying food, and with this latest measure, Flanders is aiming to keep their bills more manageable.

"With these additional funds, we are helping the most vulnerable in our society. By renovating their homes energy-efficiently, their monthly bills will go down and their living environment will be healthier," said Flemish Energy Minister Zuhal Demir.

Structural solution

While the government has already announced interest-free loans for these renovations, not every family has the financial resources to invest in energy-efficient renovations right away.

This latest structural solution is directed at these households. Through a call for subsidies within the so-called Emergency Purchase Fund, Demir is releasing €36 million to OCMWs in Flanders, which until mid-November can apply for up to €1.8 million to in turn offer interest-free loans of up to €60,000 to so-called "emergency buyers."

These are low-income households who are forced to buy cheap housing on the private market because they cannot find social housing or affordable rented accommodation. These often score poorly on quality, safety, health and energy efficiency, and because of their economic situation, the new owner often lacks the financial means to address these problems.

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"I hope that all OCMWs in Flanders respond to this appeal. They are the first point of contact for Flemish people in need to get out of misery," Demir said.

"My message to all local governments and OCMWs in Flanders is: don't leave the most vulnerable in your municipality out in the cold. We have resources to help them, make use of them," she concluded.

The emergency purchase loan allows them to make energy-efficient renovations to their homes and defer their monthly repayments until they sell their homes, with a maximum of 20 years. After that, the loan has to be paid off within 25 years.

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