25th of February 2020
Basque youth become emancipated at the age of 29 and a half on average, six years later than what they consider the ideal age to move out of their parents’ home
UPLIFT, a European project framed within the Horizon 2020 programme (Grant Agreement: 870898), was created with the aim of addressing inequality and social exclusion in terms of access to housing for young people. Orkestra is taking part in it jointly with the Barakaldo City Council through its different councils – being the Housing and Urban Planning Management Council in the lead- and, in turn, it will have the collaboration of ERETZA -Barakaldo's Urban Planning Management Society- and BIC Bizkaia Ezkerraldea and the Goiztiri NGO. "Over the next three years we aim to study and understand the present and future situation of our target group, in order to work on the design of urban policies aimed at reducing these inequalities from an innovative approach" says Noel Martín Muñiz, who will lead UPLIFT at Orkestra.
Addressing inequality and social exclusion regarding youth access to housing - are our young people at risk?
The lack of economic resources and housing shortages are a barrier to emancipation. According to the Basque Youth Observatory, less than half of young people aged between 18 and 34 years are emancipated. The main reason for this is that renting or buying a house is more than half of their monthly salary. In this regard, the study aims to address the characteristics and terms in which these young people access housing and see what effect this has on their future social inclusion, from the point of view of habits, education, energy or the possibility of forming a family.
This is a mid-term European project. How is this challenge being approached?
UPLIFT is made up of 15 European entities ("partners") with multidisciplinary technical profiles and diverse geographical locations. Orkestra is thus participating with: The Metropolitan Research Institute (Hungary), The Delft University of Technology (Netherlands), The University of Tartu (Estonia), SUPPEDITO SRL (Romania), Centro de Estudos para la Intervençao Social (Portugal), The Young Foundation (United Kingdom), UrbanPlus Droste Partner (Germany), The Uppsala University (Sweden) and us, together with the Barakaldo City Council, among others.
In a first phase, we will study and analyse the state of the art on the subject, the implemented practices and experiences gained. Then, we will work through four "social laboratories": Amsterdam (Netherlands), Sfantu Gheorghe (Romania), Tallinn (Estonia) and Barakaldo (Spain). These four cities have different but complementary realities regarding the problem of youth housing. Our aim is to study each of the cases in order to have a holistic vision of what is happening in Europe, as the project seeks to analyse and seek solutions to a challenge that affects the old continent as a whole.
Why have you chosen Barakaldo as a living laboratory?
Access to housing in Barakaldo, despite being 18-25% lower than in Bilbao, is quite difficult, since the percentage of the family's monthly salary allocated to cover the rent of a flat is a large part of real household incomes. Young people who want to become emancipated find themselves in an increasingly high market in terms of rent or purchase. The project seeks to act on young people and include single mothers, migrants with families, etc. Barakaldo has the largest migrant population, after Bilbao, and that is why this city has also been thought of for UPLIFT. In this way, the aim is to study the degree of integration of the community's population and find out about the conditions in which they live.
You previously said that the project seeks to find solutions to a challenge that affects many European cities. Can you advance something about the problem of youth housing in Europe?
One of our partners in this project is the United Kingdom. In London, a third of young adults have not been emancipated yet, while slightly less than half have been able to do so by renting. Housing prices have risen in big cities in a short time, as have the associated costs, and the wages are often insufficient to cover them.
In some of these cases, innovative solutions have been sought to promote access to these homes.
What kind of innovative solution are we referring to?
In Amsterdam, for example, the Starblok Riekerhaven project offers affordable housing to young refugees and locals, mixed in equal proportions. This initiative seeks to improve young people’s capacities to give them a solid start in the labour market and in terms of access to housing. Participants have a five-year lease, after which they are expected to have independent access to the housing market.
There are also several initiatives in Bilbao. On the one hand, there is the Kuvu project, aimed at accompanying young people in finding housing shared with people of different generations with whom they share similar characteristics. On the other hand, we have the Bilbao Municipal Housing Programme for Supportive Youth, aimed at university students and designed to enable them to share municipally-owned flats at symbolic prices in exchange for carrying out community tasks.
This project seeks precisely to understand the situation and take an innovative approach to designing urban policies aimed at reducing inequalities. How does this affect research impact?
During the years of the project, we will carry out an analysis of the state of the art, the experiences and the lessons learned in the processes of implementation of related policies in Europe. In this way, we want to provide a methodology that allows for the development of shared reflection among the region’s stakeholders and that provides inputs for the development of jointly-agreed policies that are even closer to the problem that we are trying to solve or lessen.
At a regional level, we want Barakaldo to manage, feel and recognise as its own a methodology that, in collaboration with its population and the different interest groups, promotes the co-creation, development and implementation of policies that are in tune with what this affected group has expressed.