23 November 2017 - 11:00 - 16:00
Benjamin Angel, Corinne Aubin-Vasselin, Tom Bennett, Monica Brezzi, Javier Buron Cuadrado, Marko Canovic, Gilles de Warren, Lieve Fransen, Ken Gibb, Juha Kaakinen, Dharmendra Kanani, Agata Krause, Crtomir Remec, Stepan Ripka, Chiara Rizzica, Orna Rosenfeld, Rosa Sanchez-Yebra, Jean-Pierre Schaefer, Frederik Spinnewijn, Cédric Van Styvendael, Branislava Zarkovic

While access to affordable, safe housing has been deemed a fundamental right, it is still not within reach for residents of many European countries. Indeed, in 2015 nearly 17% of the EU’s population lived in overcrowded dwellings, with nearly 25m people suffering from severe housing deprivation. Building more affordable and better quality housing requires financial mechanisms to be in place and readily available to would-be tenants, private landowners and government institutions. Money and investment are key, as are models of finance that blend public, private and civil society investors. But if housing is to play its part in economic growth, then combining models of finance with alternative approaches to ownership and the wider context of urban planning is essential. Across Europe and beyond, states, cities and civil society are rising to this challenge. While there can be no one-size-fits-all solutions in providing access to affordable housing, it is important to share lessons-learned in order to identify successful practices.

This event lays the foundation for a Housing Solutions Platform that seeks to create connections, stimulate debate and trigger change to support the financing of affordable housing as one of its five areas of focus, also including supply, demand, regulation and urban planning. This first platform meeting will bring together 50-60 senior stakeholders from across housing policy areas, as well as local, national and EU-level policymakers and investors, to debate and identify innovative practices in the housing finance arena, with the aim of identifying the good, the bad and the ugly of housing finance in order to inform future-looking policies and practices in this area.

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Financing innovative housing solutions

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10.30 - 11.00

Welcome coffee and registration of participants

11.00 - 11.30

Introductory remarks and idea-sharing

11.30 - 13.00


Amidst growing homelessness in Europe, identifying and implementing innovative and effective policies to meet current needs presents both a financial and political challenge. However, addressing such a shortage of affordable housing has been increasingly recognized as an urgent step of action not only towards ensuring protection of this particular human right, but also towards tackling the current and future socio-economic challenges that it presents for cities and their inhabitants. Looking to examples like Finland and Barcelona’s responses to homelessness, what are the connections between housing, social inclusion and economic mobility?

  • What are the unmet housing needs and emerging challenges?
  • Can housing drive economic and social gains?
  • How do cities deal with the social challenges related to the shortage of affordable/social housing and with economic stability of the end beneficiaries?
  • What programmes have cities put into place to generate affordable housing?
13.00 - 14.00

Lunch break

14.00 - 15.30


Exacerbated by Europe’s debt crisis of 2009, housing initiatives in EU Member States that aim to respond to housing provision needs have faced major financial obstacles. In order to design, propose and implement practices and policies to reduce housing exclusion and support economic mobility, financial mechanisms that incorporate both public and private funding must be set in motion. Attracting such investments has been one of the key challenges as it is often hampered by a high level of financial uncertainty in this area. What innovative financing instruments and approaches are being implemented to balance housing supply and demand, tackle inefficient and costly housing markets, and improve housing systems? And who are the investors?

  • What are the public-private or private-tenant shareholder models? What are the investment gaps?
  • What is the role for the European Commission in financing innovative housing solutions? How are they financed and who pays and gets paid back? Do these models work?
  • How will the Multi-annual Financial Framework review affect housing policy and economy?
15.30 - 16.00

Wrap-up of ideas and solutions and end of roundtable


Benjamin Angel
Director for Treasury and Financial Operations at the European Commission Directorate-General for Economic and Financial Affairs
Benjamin Angel leads the Directorate for Treasury and Financial Operations in the European Commission Directorate-General responsible for EU policies promoting economic growth, financial stability, higher employment and stable public finances. In this role, he oversees a wide range of policies, including the financing of climate change, competitiveness, employment innovation and infrastructure policies. He is also a member of the Steering Board of the European Fund for Strategic Investment.
Corinne Aubin-Vasselin
Director for Housing at Metropolitan Lyon
Corinne Aubin-Vasselin works as a director at Metropolitan Lyon, a local authority which brings together 59 municipalities and 1.3 million inhabitants in the region of Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes in France. She previously worked for 15 years in two structures of social housing, before joining Metropolitan Lyon in 2014. In her current position, Aubin-Vasselin oversees the department of housing, which notably seeks to finance social housing and strengthen access to housing.
Tom Bennett
Founder of the Housing First Transition Fund
Tom Bennett founded the Housing First Transition Fund through which he provides short-term secured loans to homeless charities and housing associations in Glasgow. He previously worked as Investment Director for Big Society Capital, an independent financial institution which aims to improve the lives of people by connecting social investment to charities and social enterprises. In this role, he headed up a £250m housing investment portfolio and developed housing investment strategies across the UK.
Monica Brezzi
Director for Technical Assessment and Monitoring at the Council of Europe Development Bank (CEB)
Monica Brezzi oversees the technical preparation and implementation of projects at the Council of Europe Development Bank. She previously worked as Head of the OECD Territorial Analysis and Statistics Unit, where she led the work on measuring well-being in cities and regions. Prior to joining the OECD in 2008, she worked at the Italian Ministry of Economic Development, where she launched a performance-based policy to improve the quality of local public services for underserved populations.
Javier Buron Cuadrado
Housing Manager at the Barcelona City Council
Javier Buron Cuadrado oversees housing policies in the city of Barcelona. Prior to this position, he worked as a consultant in public policy and the housing market, as well as in administration reform and new forms of public-private management. Buron Cuadrado also served as Undersecretary for Housing and Planning Director of the Basque Government and worked as a legal counsellor in the Basque Parliament and Spanish Congress.
Marko Canovic
Director for Housing Development at the Montenegro Ministry of Sustainable Development and Tourism
In his current position, Marko Canovic is responsible for the implementation of the 2017-2020 Social Housing Programme in Montenegro. He previously worked as an Election Monitoring Expert for the European Network of Election Monitoring Organizations (ENEMO) as well as for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). Canovic also led the Centre for Democratic Transition, a non-governmental organisation which strives to promote democracy in Montenegro.
Gilles de Warren
Director for Customers and Maintenance at ADOMA
Gilles de Warren works at Adoma, a social housing operator managing 72,000 housing units for vulnerable groups, which is now the leader for accommodating and assisting asylum-seekers in France. Since 2000, he has successively worked as Territorial Director in Mulhouse, Metz and Bordeaux, and as Deputy Regional Director for Ile-de-France until his current nomination as Director for Customer and Maintenance, where he monitors the operating network of Adoma’s facilities.
Lieve Fransen
Member of the European Long-Term Investors (ELTI) High-level Task Force on Infrastructure
Lieve Fransen chairs the working group on “investment needs in social infrastructure” of the High-level Task Force on Social Infrastructure. This task force chaired by former European Commission President Romano Prodi aims to publish recommendations to promote the financing of social infrastructure by the end of 2017. Fransen previously worked for the European Commission where she served as Director for Social Policies of the Europe 2020 Strategy.
Ken Gibb
Director of the Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence
Ken Gibb is professor of urban studies at the University of Glasgow School of Social and Political Sciences. He is also Director of the Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence, a multidisciplinary partnership, which aims to take a housing systems approach to produce evidence and new research in order to improve housing policy and practice across the UK. His research interests are focused on the economic, financial and policy dimensions of housing.
Juha Kaakinen
CEO of the Y-Foundation
Juha Kaakinen has worked in public administration of the City of Helsinki, as a researcher, consultant and CEO of Social Development Ltd, a company devoted to developing social and health services for cities and municipalities and as a Program Leader of a National Program to End Long-term Homelessness. He is now Chief Executive of Y-Foundation, the biggest Finnish NGO providing housing for homeless people and social housing with a housing stock of 16700 flats. He is internationally known as an advocate of Housing First policy.
Dharmendra Kanani
Director of Insights at Friends of Europe
Dharmendra Kanani has been in senior leadership roles in the Public and Voluntary sectors across the UK and Europe over a period of 26 years. In 2005, he was appointed as Director of Scotland of the Big Lottery Fund. Subsequently, from 2010 to 2014, Kanani was the England Director at the Big Lottery Fund, the largest independent funder in the UK. Since 2016, he has supported Friends of Europe’s strategic development across all its policy areas with a strong focus on Climate and Energy; Peace, Security and Defence as well as Digitalisation. Prior to this role, Kanani was the European Foundation Centre’s (EFC) first Fellow in July 2014. 
Agata Krause
Policy Advisor for Housing and Homelessness at Eurocities
At Eurocities, Agata Krause seeks to facilitate knowledge exchange between cities and to support evidence-based policymaking. She is particularly interested in housing construction, housing finance and housing governance, but also in homelessness, environmental benchmarking and urban regeneration. Krause has recently run a series of workshops on housing and land management, long-term investment in affordable housing and the right to housing.
Crtomir Remec
Director of the Housing Fund of the Republic of Slovenia
Crtomir Remec leads the Housing Fund of the Republic of Slovenia, a public financial and real estate fund established to finance and implement the National Housing Programme, stimulating construction, maintenance and renovation of housing and residential buildings. He previously worked at the Steel Construction Institute and at the CBS Institute, where he gained extensive professional and management experience in the field of prefabricated and energy-efficient building.
Stepan Ripka
Executive Chairman of the Platform for Social Housing
Stepan Ripka currently chairs the Platform for Social Housing, a coalition of 65 NGOs and experts, which aims to end homelessness through social housing in the Czech Republic. He is also a Research Team Leader at the University of Ostrava, where he is developing and implementing a randomised control trial of rapid re-housing of 50 homeless families in Brno, the second largest city in the Czech Republic. Ripka previously worked as a country expert for the European Commission and the World Bank.
Chiara Rizzica
PhD architect, Project Manager and International Partnerships coordinator at Fondazione Housing Sociale
Chiara Rizzica is responsible for coordinating international partnership projects at Fondazione Housing Sociale, a foundation which experiments in innovative solutions for financing, managing and structuring economically-sustainable social housing initiatives. She is currently running through the scouting of new social housing projects to be realised within the Integrated System of Funds, the Italian funding platform for social and affordable housing.
Orna Rosenfeld
Adjunct Professor at the Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris (Sciences Po)
Orna Rosenfeld is a senior housing expert teaching at the Paris Institute of Political Studies (Sciences Po) since 2013. An architect by training, she designed and assisted in the delivery of over 6,000 affordable homes before dedicating herself to counselling and researching the advancement of affordable and social housing policies. Among other publications, she is the author of the flagship study “Social Housing in the UNECE Region: Models, Trends and Challenges”.
Rosa Sanchez-Yebra
Vice-Governor for Social Development Strategy at the Council of Europe Development Bank (CEB)
In her current position, Rosa Sanchez-Yebra oversees the social development strategy of the Council of Europe Development Bank, a multilateral development bank, which aims to promote social cohesion and strengthen social integration in Europe. Sanchez-Yebra previously served as Secretary-General of the Treasury and Financial Policy in Spain, in which capacity she represented the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness in financial fora such as the G-20 and served as Deputy Minister at the Eurogroup.
Jean-Pierre Schaefer
Chargé de Mission at the French Ministry of Territorial Cohesion Council of the Cities
Jean-Pierre Schaefer is an expert on housing economics and housing markets at the French Council of the Cities, which aims to advise the government on urban social development in France. He was previously in charge of economic studies at the Caisse des Dépôts and member of the board of directors of several housing companies. Among other publications, he is the author of the article “Latest trends in social housing finance policies in France” published in Housing Finance International.
Frederik Spinnewijn
Director of the European Federation of National Organisations Working with the Homeless (FEANTSA)
Frederik Spinnewijn is director of FEANTSA, a European umbrella of NGOs working with homeless people in 30 European countries, which aims to end homelessness in Europe. Before joining FEANTSA in 2001, Spinnewijn led a European network of seniors’ organisations. He sits on the boards of several European organisations such as the European Anti-Poverty Network (EAPN), the European Public Health Alliance (EPHA) and Social Services Europe.
Cédric Van Styvendael
President of Housing Europe, the Federation for Public, Cooperative and Social Housing
After a first experience in the public education sector responsible for urban policy issues, Cédric Van Styvendael joined the firm Habitat et Territoires Conseil, focusing on issues of urban management and renewal. He previously worked as Managing Director of Villeurbanne Est Habitat and as General Director of Est Métropole Habitat. In 2015, Van Styvendael joined the Board of Housing Europe, a network of 45 regional and national federations gathering 43,000 housing providers in 24 countries.
Branislava Zarkovic
Executive Director of the Housing Development Center for Socially Vulnerable Groups
Branislava Zarkovic leads the Housing Development Center for Socially Vulnerable Groups, a non-profit organisation, which seeks to improve the living conditions of socially vulnerable groups in Serbia. An architect by training, Zarkovic previously worked as a consultant and researcher in the field of housing for vulnerable groups and on displaced persons and refugee issues related to housing, institutional discrimination, integration and poverty alleviation.

In association with

CEB FEANTSA Housing Europe  


The Housing Solutions Platform is supported by

Jean-Yves Stenuick, Programme Manager
Tel: + 32 2 893 98 25

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