Wallonia brings in new measure to quickly create public housing

Wallonia brings in new measure to quickly create public housing
ILLUSTRATION SERIES - FLOODS ONE YEAR LATER - Illustration picture shows construction works in the backyard of Chantal. Credit: Belga / Eric Lalmand

In order to boost “affordable” housing on Wallonia's property market, the regional housing minister Christophe Collignon will establish a new mechanism to quickly purchase private housing and offer them as public housing, La Libre Belgique reports.

“I have nothing against the private sector, I am open to working with them and I think this mechanism means that everyone can gain,” Collignon explained, pointing to the slow construction of public housing. “It still takes a period of 5-7 years for the housing to be ready to be placed on the market.”

Too slow, the minister believes, to meet current demand. In Wallonia alone, 40,000 people are waiting for public housing. By 2030, this figure is expected to swell by another 7,000.

Satisfying urgent demand

The plan involves a two-part mechanism: firstly, a budget of €100 million from the region's recovery budget (to boost the economy after successive crises) will help purchase private housing. This will enable public housing companies, municipalities, and CPAS to acquire housing built by private operators.

The minister hopes that this will quickly get around 500 homes on the market, with the first housing units available “this year.” Collignon hopes to create a public-private partnership for housing in Wallonia, similar to what already exists in the Brussels Region. The minister will set up a committee responsible for evaluating properties purchased from the private sector to ensure that they are up to standard.

A second part of the mechanism aims to help regional property managers and associations to prepare and equip land already in their possession, or that they decide to acquire for housing purposes. A further €35 million will support this measure to provide new homes with a separate support committee to oversee the preparation of land and provide legal assistance.

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“If you can provide the private sector with land already equipped, you lower the price of construction and therefore the price of renting the property,” the minister explained. Properties built in this way will enjoy flexible conditions, such as the ability to be put on the market as rentals or for sale, so long as prices are affordable.

The Walloon Housing Company will also receive €15 million to help it develop land under its possession. It is hoped that this will lead to the creation of 871 new housing units.

“By creating at least 550 new rental public utility housing units and 1,000 affordable housing units, this programme moves towards the government’s goal to increase housing supply for low- and middle-income Walloons,” the minister concluded.

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