Housing Europe shares the social aspect of shared mobility in housing developments

Last week, we interviewed Clara Mafé from one of our project partners Housing Europe about who they are and what they intend to achieve within the SHARE-North Squared INTERREG Project. Housing Europe is the European Federation of public, social and corporate housing and as such the federation represents multiple national housing organizations.

What attracted you to become a partner with SHARE-NorthSquared?

The reason why we joined is mainly that we have a part within our organization that is dedicated to the innovation of the social housing sector represented by our members. However, we didn’t have a project on mobility yet. Through being part of SHARE-North Squared, we want to get into that dimension as well. 

Secondly, we normally do not work with the North Sea Region as a whole, but rather with separate countries. This project gives a more integrated and holistic view of the housing issues concerned with the shared mobility of that whole region. 

It is also one of our first projects within INTERREG, as we normally work with Horizon 2020. 

What can Housing Europe offer to the consortium? What can it gain?

From our standpoint, we offer the perspective of housing providers from other countries that extend beyond the scope of the North Sea Region

We know the different housing systems as they vary in Europe. The North Sea Region is split between two different housing systems. First, the Nordic Housing System (for example: Sweden, Finland, Denmark): where there is more public housing and it is not allocated based on income. Second, the Western Housing System (for example: the Netherlands and Belgium) where a big share of the whole building sector is social housing and there is a presence of private social housing associations. These components will determine how they can integrate shared mobility into housing developments, for example, the relationship between the housing developer and the local or national authorities. 

As an organization, we can more easily bring the topic of shared and sustainable mobility into our EU lobbying activity to directly influence EU policies. Housing Europe has built a list of contacts and has created a space and a voice within the European policy framework. Until now, it was not included in our tasks, but slowly it will become more prominent. Through our network, we can also help multiply by bringing best practices to other members and other countries. 

As a network of housing providers, what is your perception of the acceptance of integration of shared mobility in the housing/social sector?

Shared mobility is not a primary action when housing providers promote sustainable mobility. It is thus not a main priority, but it is included within a set of solutions and is part of many projects on the district levels. One of the reasons that is not a priority is that there is the idea that it is difficult to work with service providers. Besides that, there is the question of how the responsibilities are assigned when there are issues with mobility vehicles. 

However, shared mobility can help with accessibility and should be more at the forefront of the projects. It should be preceded by a needs analysis and the assessment of an area to determine the need for shared mobility in specific contexts.

Housing providers have started communicating and investing in mobility management which is a good opportunity for our sector to increase the knowledge of what tenants want and need. In this search for knowledge, social housing providers can be a good source of information as one of their key features is their good relationship with tenants. 

One of the German members of Housing Europe surveyed housing providers which showed that the interest is there, but the uncertainty regarding who is responsible for damages and the difficulties that come with working with service providers are the two main roadblocks.

The main reason to get involved with shared mobility remains climate. It also showed that housing providers’ interest is mostly in electric mobility and bike parking spaces. However, 30 percent of those surveyed were involved in car sharing. 

From your point of view, how can the integration of shared mobility help to counteract the current housing crisis, make housing more sustainable and reduce the price of living?

Shared mobility on its own will not counteract the housing crisis, but there is an indirect link. It can lead to more efficient land use, less dependence on cars, and more active travel. Promoting shared mobility is a tool to reduce car ownership and bring public space back to society.

However, it has to be coupled with public transport and other aspects of transport. Shared mobility can be a lever to connect social housing to the urban area leading to more access to jobs. 

Secondly, part of our work pertains to the renewable energy to sufficiency approach. This falls within the broader goal of decarbonization. Sustainable mobility and shared mobility are integral parts of this sufficiency strategy.

The transportation choices of tenants within their city play a crucial role in reducing emissions. By decreasing parking demand, we can repurpose existing space for other projects.