I'm the newest member of the National CLT Network team. I started at the beginning of this month as the Communications and Campaigns Officer and my first order of business was to become better acquainted with the Interreg North-West European project, Sustainable Housing for Inclusive and cohesive Cities (SHICC).
Last week we joined our partners in Lille, France for the first transnational conference to kick off the SHICC project, which is funded by Interreg North West Europe. This was the first of three transnational events, with the next one taking place May 2019 in London. There was a strong sense of enthusiasm as people from across North-West Europe and further field gathered to connect and discuss the progressive housing and land movement.
What is SHICC?
There is a far reaching affordable housing crisis in the UK with many people hit hard, affecting everything from their mental health as a consequence of incredibly high bills to living in terrible conditions, this is especially true in cities. There is a similar situation happening in North-West Europe (NWE). More than 26 million people across the European Union are living in overcrowded and inadequate properties. Although the context varies from region to region when it comes to trends such as gentrification, affordability in housing, the lack of adequate housing for lower income and middle earners the situation is starkly similar.
The need for a shake up in how we are supplying housing across NWE is becoming more apparent and necessary. There are communities across the region who are developing innovative solutions in response to the affordability crisis by setting up Community Land Trusts and joining a growing global movement for sustainable, community led housing. This is where SHICC comes in. SHICC is made up of six partners from across the region working collaboratively over three years (2017-2020) to bolster the development and profile of community land trusts through advocacy, participatory events, peer-to-peer learning and more. By 2020 we aim to have made strides in getting community land trusts recognised as a viable, robust and sustainable mainstream option for housing supply and urban renewal.
The conference was held across two days, the first one being plenary sessions and workshops and the second being focused on relationship building through peer-to-peer sessions. The two day conference was an exciting and revitalising environment to be in. You had government officials, housing sector workers and grass roots housing activists all thinking creatively about how CLTs can work in their respected contexts as an alternative to mainstream housing models.
Some of the attendees on day two got to look around two of the development sites in Lille, which was followed by a Q&A with the developers. These sites had a large number of OFS units, which is a housing model for genuinely affordable housing that is held in perpetuity. One of which was the Rue Renan site with a whole block of apartments dedicated to OFS and the other Cosmopole, 15 homes. To see developments on such a scale was galvanising and the difference in the relationships between housing developer, the community and local government was really interesting.
The conference was a success with people leaving with new ideas, intrigue and relationships. Housing is a pillar of security for many people. Unfortunately, for many people across NWE the foundation on which the pillar sits often feels shaky. This is why projects like SHICC are vital to the transnational progressive housing and land movement.
To find out more about SHICC and the partner organisations click here