The COVID-19 pandemic and the confinement measures imposed in many EU countries over the last months shed a particular light on the major impact of housing on people’s health and well-being. Yet, with 80% of our housing stock being not suitable for independent living (figure from Housing Europe), important effort will be necessary to address the challenges and needs of an ageing population.
On 6 October, as part of the 2020 European Week of Cities and Regions, AGE co-organised with Tecnalia the workshop “Cities and regions building homes for life“ dedicated to age-friendly housing. Different actors were invited to talk about funding schemes, tools or local initiatives supporting inclusive housing.
Irina Kalderon Libal, policy officer at DG CNECT from the “eHealth, Wellbeing and Ageing” unit, focused her presentation on existing and future European Commission policies and actions supporting active and healthy ageing, including age-friendly environments.
Silvia Urra Uriarte, architect and specialist in building represented the Homes4Life project. She explained the importance of investing in housing for all ages and how quality housing has a tremendous influence on our health. Therefore, the Homes4Life project developed a European Certification Scheme that will support all actors involved to better understand what should be taken into account when developing, designing and implementing an age-friendly home. The Certification Scheme is divided into 5 different categories considered crucial for age-friendly housing: personal, social, economics, physical and outdoor access. (View Silvia’s presentation here.)
Three speakers, who are taking part in the testing of the Homes4Life Certification Scheme, presented local initiatives from Poland, Ireland and Spain:
- Dr Jan P. Cieśla is the co-author of the Mimo Wieku Initiative (At home despite the Age). Jan is a consulting architect specialized in safe, healthy and sustainable built environments and expert in building certifications. He presented the first model apartment in Poland for active ageing and ageing in place. The apartment is accessible to provide training to architects for example when addressing the issue of housing for all ages. Jan P. Cieśla promotes universal design, “What is good for older people is good for all ages or for people with reduced mobility.”
- Ciaran O’Brien from OBFA Architects presented the Housing with supports project in Inchicore, Dublin. The presented project examines the potential to deliver a model of managed housing that will support older persons in life and to end of life. This is being explored against a backdrop of a housing crisis in Ireland and the dichotomy of older individuals and couples in homes that no longer meet their needs. The project will offer 52 residential apartments, respecting and interlinking private, public and semi-public spaces, where residents will be able to interact and create a community. As Ciaran said, “it takes a village to provide a stimulating environment for older people”.
- Sergio Murillo Corzo, Minister of Social Action in the Government of Biscay, presented the Etxegoki initiative, the leading site to validate a new model of supported housing for people with a physical disability. The building is owned by the Bizkaia government but is managed by FEKOOR, the Physical Disability Associactions Federation in Biscay. The public authority of Bizkaia implemented a change in their policy approach; they now provide support to change the environment. The case of Etxegoki proved to be successful in changing the community where the building is established. Shops and medical centres in the area had to adapt to enable the residents to also access these services. Changing the law is not enough, said Sergio Murillo, changing the mind sets, culture and insight of a community proves to be much more successful.
The recording of this event is available here.
For any further information on this workshop and AGE involvement on Home4Life, you may contact Nhu Tram, firstname.lastname@example.org