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  • Social housing
  • is an umbrella term for government-assisted accommodation with the objective of attaining and sustaining household and community well-being. Social housing could include—although not uniquely—not-for-profit housing that government and community managers provide with the purpose to ensure for reasons of household affordability and appropriateness. Social housing has developed in response to inability of the housing market to respond to the general need and demand for housing. Usually, it is rental housing that may be owned and managed by the State, by not-for-profit organizations, or by a combination of the two. However, some social housing schemes involve also private-sector investment partners.

    “Social housing is housing where the access is controlled by the existence of allocation rules favouring households that have difficulties in finding accommodation in the market.”[1] While recognizing that the types of tenure, target groups/ beneficiaries and further interpretation of social housing are subject to variation by country, circumstance and over time, social housing involves at least the following characteristics:

    • Allocation and access: State or the regional or local authorities determine the target groups and criteria for allocation and access, including such criteria as income ceilings, affirmative action/positive discrimination, or other priorities;
    • Affordability: A low price or low level of rent to ensure that low income groups can gain and sustain access to social housing;
    • Security of tenure: Secured and long-term lease on rented sector and securitization on social owner occupation sector. (See also Public housing above.)

    [1] The European Liaison Committee for Social Housing (CECODHAS) proposed this definition of social housing to the European Commission in 1998 to define Social Housing by a single, Europe-wide criterion under the 6th European directive on value-added tax (VAT), which allows the European Union Member States to apply a low rate of VAT on social housing.

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