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    Social and affordable housing faces challenges in many EU countries, including increasing demand, a decline in stocks and limited resources.

    Housing is a basic human need, and the EIB is committed to easing the pressure on housing markets in Europe. Social and affordable housing loans are a major element of the EU bank’s €150 billion in urban lending.

    The EIB's support includes the reconstruction of existing housing and the construction of new social and affordable accommodation. Projects range from housing schemes in small towns and rural areas that face demographic challenges to development projects in large cities with severe housing shortages.

    Why does the EIB finance social and affordable housing?

    The EIB is involved in social housing for two main reasons:

    • First, there is a lack of decent, safe and energy-efficient housing for lower income and marginalised populations. This can be attributed to incomplete or missing markets and coordination failures, which can have wider negative consequences, such as public health and safety issues, a shortage of workers, inefficient labour markets, poor use of energy and low energy efficiency.
    • Second, decent housing can help reduce inequality in society and defuse potential social tensions, which may be ignited by geographically polarised concentrations of different population groups and a poor social mix.

    The boundaries between social and affordable housing are not clear-cut and may vary from country to country. The EIB addresses this by lending to the social and affordable housing sector in order to:

    • redress the lack of social and affordable housing;
    • strengthen equity and cohesion.

    How we help

    The EIB is flexible in terms of its financing approach and has different products available.

    The InvestEU programme enables the EIB to accept higher levels of risk, for example when lending to social and affordable housing companies with lower ratings.

    The EIB supports better funding and advisory services under the EU Urban Agenda. It works with partners to foster new social housing in transition countries where social housing is limited and regulatory frameworks have not been established.

    Besides financing, the EIB provides advice on social and affordable housing topics linked to investment in the sector – in particular through our URBIS (Urban Investment Support) instrument available via the European Investment Advisory Hub.

    The things we take for granted: A home for Anselm

    For a long time, Anselm struggled to find a place to live in Dublin, until he became eligible for social housing. In July 2023, he finally moved into an affordable home run by Focus Ireland. It changed his life.

    The new apartment block was financed by the Irish Housing Finance Agency with the support of the EIB. Between 2016 and 2023, the EIB backed the agency with €650 million that resulted in 5,000 social and affordable housing units and 550 energy renovations.

    More investment in social infrastructure is one of the EIB’s top financing priorities in Europe.


    Eligibility criteria

    EIB activities support the implementation of the EU Urban Agenda. We invest in regions and nations where there is a clear policy and a regulatory housing framework.

    Given the sensitivity of the social housing sector, a general pre-requisite for any EIB financing of social housing is that:

    • A sound and proper regulatory framework is put in place;
    • The housing type/tenure will remain unchanged in the long-term, at least for the duration of the loan operation;
    • In the case of new construction of social and affordable housing, the project is part of a specific housing plan or urban renewal plan for the respective area(s).
    • Long-term operation and maintenance of the housing stock is ensured.
    • Regular comprehensive and effective inspection and control mechanisms are in place.