The disproportionate increase in rent prices with respect to incomes and the increasing difficulties that tenants face in accessing stable, decent and affordable housing is now recognised as one of the most pressing social issues of our time. The causes of this phenomenon are complex and involve both conjunctural as well as structural factors.
The increase of the properties that are available as short term rentals (through Airbnb or other platforms) has emerged as a critical factor that affects people’s ability to access affordable rental housing, sets new standards in the rental and real estate market and radically transforms urban space in ways that threaten some of its distinctive traits.
While access to affordable and decent housing is becoming increasingly difficult, the speculative exploitation of residential property is on the rise. Instead of it being treated as a basic social good and a fundamental right, housing is increasingly becoming a commodity, an investment product and a vehicle for speculation and enrichment.
The fact that there is a large number of vacant houses and buildings while at the same time more and more people are facing serious housing issues, is a contradiction of the dominant urban approach model. At the same time, there’s the challenge of using them in the context of social and affordable housing programmes, and more broadly to address social needs, both in large urban centres as well as in smaller towns and settlements
Young people are finding it increasingly difficult to meet the rising housing costs and are forced to live in poor housing conditions or continue depending on their parents.
Home ownership in Greece has been a socially widespread family practice. However, in the recession years, the dramatic increase of housing costs has turned the “roof over our heads” into an unbearable burden.
Energy poverty is a global challenge that affects approximately 54 million people across Europe and has an immediate impact on their health. The public debate focuses mainly on the rising energy prices rather than on the reasons why consumption levels are so high, a fact that in itself is one of the contributing causes of the ongoing climate crisis.
The past few years were marked by increasing inequalities and discrimination, resulting to ever increasing parts of the population living in poverty and social exclusion. At the same time, there is a growing number of vulnerable groups experiencing a lack of housing, which includes not only homelessness but also broader, not always visible, forms of housing insecurity.
Even though urban interventions can have a significant impact on affordable housing availability, in Greece, urban planning practices are fragmentary and focus mainly on the aesthetic upgrading of urban space.