Journal of Housing and the Built Environment vol:23 issue:3 pages:215-230
Housing policy in Belgium and Flanders is directed mainly towards encouraging home ownership. Social housing in Flanders covers a share of 5.6% of the housing stock. This social rental sector is characterized as a safety net by some housing researchers and as a general model by others. During the 1990s and the first half of this decade social housing in Flanders became under discussion. The image of social housing that dominated then was one of increasing problems with tenants and neighbourhoods. Raising the income limits to get a better social mix was advocated by the sector and afterwards by policy as one of the solutions for these problems, meanwhile also improving the revenues of the housing associations. The political discourse however was very little supported by scientific knowledge. This contribution aims at clarifying the position of the Flemish social housing by describing the historical and regulatory context and presenting the results of the Housing Survey 2005. It dispels the misunderstanding that Flemish social housing is a residual model and explores different future models. One of the conclusions is that solving problems of the social rental sector may not occur at the cost of those who need affordable housing most.