ENHR Conference edition:23 location:Lillehammer (Norway) date:25-27 June 2012
Flanders, the largest of the three Belgian regions, is one of the most prosperous regions of Europe. Since the reform of the Belgian state in the 1980s, housing policy is a competence of the regions. Contrary to the preceding National policy, mainly driven by economic objectives, the Flemish housing policy starts from the constitutional right to decent housing and assigns priority to the housing needs of low income households. To realize the right to housing for every citizen Flemish housing policy makes use of several policy instruments, such as social housing, social loans, renovation premiums, etc. However, research shows that the goals of housing policy are far from met. The fact that real estate tax, as one of the most important leverages, remained federal competence was for a long time one of the main difficulties in implementing the right to housing. However, in October 2011 a political agreement was reached for a next transfer of competence from the federal state to the regions, including the transfer of housing taxation. This now offers a historical chance to reorient housing policy along new lines.
This paper focuses on the realization of housing affordability, as one of the important housing policy goals. We document housing affordability in Flanders and the recent developments in Flemish housing policy. Starting from these facts, we explore the possible choices and main challenges of policy towards attaining housing affordability.