Housing provided for people on low incomes or with particular needs by government agencies or non-profit organizations. (OXFORD DICTIONARIES)

The level of democracy and social equity of a country can be assessed and measured in different ways and fields, but there is one area that is probably more important than others in ensuring a good quality of life for the citizens: the housing. Probably because the house is one of man’s primary needs and is directly linked to the people’s quality of life.

How to guarantee a home for all citizens has been a central problem in the social policies of many European states over the last 80 years. The problem has been approached in various ways and each european countries have developed different systems to approach this theme. In recent years, housing problems have evolved as a result of national and international factors, giving rise to a new, varied and complex scenario regarding the “demand for housing”. In addition to the parts of the population that traditionally benefit from public housing, parts of the population belonging to the middle class have also been added, which were previously not affected by the housing risk and the need to have access to a ‘protected’ real estate market. The concept of poverty, traditionally intended as a prerequisite for access to ‘public’ homes, has in recent years been modified and integrated with that of social vulnerability, understood as a reduction in access to primary goods due to situations of economic uncertainty, even temporary.

In this phase of deep and rapid demographic and economic changes: new migrations and, population ageing, impoverishment of the middle classes and social and economic polarisation, restructuring of the labour market and welfare policies, as well as transformation of the construction sector, has necessarily pushed the public sector to imagine new models and systems to satisfy the demand for housing and the private sector to seek new markets and new ways to do business. One of the models generated in Italy by this new situation is the Housing Sociale Collaborativo.

The new housing policies, and in particular the Social Housing, are experimenting new models of housing and new systems of partnership and interests between the public sector, the private companies and  the citizens.

The ‘Housing Sociale and Collaborativo’ is an innovative model designed for people with low income and lack of legal requirements. The Housing Sociale involves a close collaboration between the public sector and private operators with a social purpose that develop social housing interventions.

The creation of a new system to meet the demand for housing is not the only innovative element of collaborative social housing. Infact, it is no longer enough just to provide housing for people, but new housing interventions must also be an opportunity to develop cooperation and social cohesion among citizens. For this reason, Social Housing projects are not only concerned with designing houses but also with developing and encouraging the birth of communities made up of citizens who are committed to the quality of life of their community.

The housing sociale is therefore an important tool because through its implementation and diffusion benefits are obtained for the whole community: from the promotion of social cohesion in the territory to participation between the public and the private sector on the theme of fair housing and investment in housing with a new “social”value.

For italian readers, in the following links you can find more information about Italian Social Housing projects: Fondazione Housing Sociale, Housing Sociale.it and Cenni di Cambiamento.


Author: Stefano Anfossi

Illustration: Valentina Vezzani