Comparative analysis of policies for affordable and sustainable housing

Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment, Delft University of Technology, Netherlands

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Prof. dr. ir. Marja Elsinga, chair Housing Institutions and Governance


Dr. Marietta Haffner, Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment, Delft University of Technology, Netherlands

Prof.dr. Gojko Bežovan, Institute for Social Policy, Faculty of Law, University of Zagreb, Croatia


Centre for Development of Non-Profit Organisations, Zagreb, Croatia

Housing Europe, Brussels, Belgium

INCASOL, Barcelona, Spain

Research project

Sustainability goals have been formulated worldwide, as well as in the EU and in EU Member States. At the same time, housing poverty, including energy (and) water poverty –the inability to pay the housing, energy (water) bills– has reached national and EU policy agendas. This state of the art of housing costs being unaffordable to some households in combination with the agreed transition towards sustainable (energy) housing puts extra pressure on the affordability of housing costs. On the one hand, not all households are able to afford their housing and energy costs. On the other hand, investments in making housing more sustainable (energy wise) puts questions forward on how to finance the transition, how to allocate these costs across housing tenures, consumers, which are the primary focus of this project, and investors and policy makers.

In this project, first, the ESR will map and compare policies for affordable and sustainable housing across Europe, as well as theories/approaches to housing affordability & sustainability(A&S). Second, as starting point for comparison of sustainability measures, the ESR will present/measure consumer problems with paying their housing costs. The next step entails the measurement of the consequences for affordability of the transition towards sustainable (energy) housing for the consumer: what will be the impact of the strive for sustainability on the affordability of housing costs? These calculations will unravel the ways in which the affordability of housing costs and the sustainability investments may be in conflict with each other. If calculations require in-depth insights, the ESR will study the impacts of specific sustainability investments.

In summary, the project aims to show where and to what extent housing/sustainability subsidies or innovative finance instruments may impact in a positive way on the conflict between affordability and sustainability. This will allow to identify equality impacts. The planned secondments are intended to give further depth to the case studies.

->To conduct this individual research project, interlinked with the other ESRs projects, focusing on the:
  • Review of policies and instruments including those aiming for sustainable housing investment that impact the affordability of housing costs for consumers in different housing tenures
  • Critical analysis of theories on affordability and sustainability of housing
  • Design of the framework of analysis and the development of indicators of affordable and sustainable housing according to current comparative standards in social and housing policies
  • Review of EU, national and local databases
  • Measurement of affordability and understood consequences of investment in sustainability on the affordability of housing costs according to current standards, which implies a) to assess financial policies for affordability in different housing tenures (in selected EU countries) and b) to analyse and assess performance of housing subsides systems in selected EU countries
->To participate in the network-wide activities (workshops, summer schools, conferences)
->To carry out the training required by the PhD programme of the host university.

As part of the individual research project, ESRs will carry out two secondments, each of 2 to 3 months, in the partner organisations.

ESRs are expected to have completed a doctoral thesis that can be defended at the host institution within or shortly thereafter the project lifetime.

Host university

Since its foundation 110 years ago, the Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment has built up a solid international reputation for training architects, urban planners and designers, as well as for its research portfolio and coaching of PhD candidates. With around 2,600 students and 500 staff members, and around 230 full-time employees devoted to academic positions, our institution is one of the most prestigious architecture and the built environment faculties globally as demonstrated by our number 2 position in the global QS-ranking 2020. Traditionally, the faculty has prioritised high-quality training in design and research in the field of the built environment. Over 40 chairs embrace a wide range of academic areas in design, process and technology, which together cover the entire field of the built environment. The faculty has a budget of around €38 million, of which approximately €7 million is sourced indirectly and from contracts with third parties.

The chairs Housing Institutions & Governance and Housing Management have a track record in participating and (co)leading EC funded projects such as: UPLIFT Intergenerational inequalities and housing for vulnerable young people (H2020SC6-TRANSFORMATIONS-2019, 2020-22), Housing 4.0 Energy Applying new digital techniques for small affordable near zero energy housing (Interreg NEW, 2018-21), CHARM Circular Housing Asset Renovation & Management (Interreg NWE, 2018-21), RE-InVEST: Rebuilding an inclusive, value-based Europe of solidarity and trust through social investments (H2020-EURO-SOCIETY-2014, 2016-19).


Prof. dr. ir. Marja Elsinga (

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