Federation for
Housing and

Housing Networking event in York

Housing in York, UK

A new inception for the IFHP Housing Working Group.

From the 15th to the 17th of April, IFHP, in partnership with Capita Property & Infrastructure, York Housing Association and Joseph Rowntree Trust Foundation organized a housing networking event in York, UK. The event balanced careful planning with sufficient spontaneity to allow the participants to shape the agenda and develop the dialogues in line with their interests.


It is a great privilege to be hosting this event for such influential people in the housing sector,” commented Julia Histon, chief executive of York Housing Association.  “Within York, there are examples of both great practice and challenges being faced by housing providers nationally and internationally...


The event started with a visit to Derwenthorpe, the JRHT’s new community on the edge of the city built on three pillars: design, behaviour and Inclusion. How can a community be environmentally and socially inclusive? What is the role of the philanthropic sector in providing housing? Boost innovation and sustainability is something the social sector should be in charge of? …Among other questions that inspired and animated the debate of the following days.


European leaders from Sweden, Italy, France, Germany and the UK representing housing associations, trust foundations, university and private and public sectors with the participation of the York City Council, addressed European housing challenges from different angles and contexts. Housing issues across Europe are similar, shortages, affordability and demographics all contributing to the continuing crisis. While problems are similar the tools available to address the problems are different and the reasons for this are political, cultural and economic. Land use planning and the distribution of economic goods are part of the solution but the critical determinant is the political will.  Demographics such as ageing populations and migration flows, the role of the private sector in the provision or affordable housing, and high-level measures that can be proposed to respond to the lack of housing supply. To begin with, this meeting dedicated a specific focus to:


  1. Land and Land supply for Housing
  2. Affordability
  3. Demographics and Inclusionary Housing
  4. Government, Housing and Politics 


A network of international housing professionals

The event most peremptorily showed the value of meeting a diverse range of senior professionals clearly committed to seek solutions to housing problems in their respective countries.


Tony Hutchinson reminded us the UN Declaration of housing as human right and this was a powerful tool in pressing the group for action.
In this sense, the York event definitely posed the basis for a long term program of commitment and networking actions around Europe striving “to seek solutions and exchange best practices to help to achieve that goal in a range of countries which face a huge spectrum of different housing issues”, noted Diana Fitzsimons, Northern Ireland.


The participants agreed that is important that the momentum is maintained and that a programme of next steps, mission and plan for the future actions is defined.


By being a virtual platform for discussion and progressive learning, the group wants to become a recognized place of production, co-creation and action, promoting networking actions to produce innovation on the housing issues. They expressed the will to open up to other experiences and think and readapt their own professional approach to find new methods and solutions to today’s and future housing issues.


Stewart Shaw - Housing Working Group Chair stated:


From my perspective the event achieved what we set out to do.  Those attending had perceptive, professional strong views and were able to make team orientated contributions to extremely complex issues.  Placing the York event in context was very much the beginning of an ongoing, detailed analysis of International housing challenges.  Our group benefited from the experience.  It will grow, develop and maintain focus.  
I am very much looking forward to our planned program of future activities


The next steps

Parallel to the elaboration of a common vision and mission of intents, the group has drafted a schedule of potential future meetings:


  • Nov 2015 – contribution at the IFHP Summit (NL, DE)
  • Mar 2016 - Sweden ~ political and governance aspects facilitating the exchange of views between the political sector and the international housing professionals
  • 2016 – Networking event in Manchester, UK;
  • 2016 - Networking event in Turin, IT

Outcomes and report

>> Download the collection of Abstracts produced by the contributors and the profiles of the contributors

>> News published on the YHA’s website during the event

>> The final report: York housing networking event report


Our heartfelt thanks to all the contributors and partners of this event for your time and troubles in joining us in York!