Practice of the Month: Social Housing Agencey - Agence Immobiliere Sociale (AIS)
All cities in Grand Duchy of Luxembourg
The Social Housing Agency (Agence Immobilière Sociale – AIS) provides housing for disadvantaged people by acting as a mediator between deprived people and housing owners. The AIS thus contributes to fighting social exclusion in Luxembourg and offers deprived people the opportunity to take a first step into a better life. Due to special agreements with the landlords, deprived people can rent an accommodation at an affordable rent. ‘Social contracts’ are set up between the AIS and the lodgers, allowing the latter to live in the accommodation for up to three years. In return, and with the help of AIS, the lodgers agree to actively contribute to improving their socio-economic situation during the same period.
The housing situation in Luxembourg is generally rather tight. Over the last few years, the housing offer has not been able to meet the increasing demand. The existing offer is high in price which creates problems especially for disadvantaged people with lower incomes. High deposits when renting an accommodation constitute another obstacle for deprived people. Moreover, they are often discriminated on the rental market due to their socio-economic situation. Finding affordable accommodations can thus become a real challenge for this group.The AIS has been launched as an instrument to provide housing for people with low incomes and at risk for social exclusion with respect to housing.
The establishment of AIS has been on the agenda since 2001. In 2008, a “Foundation for Housing Access” (Fondation pour l’accès au logement) was launched to meet the shortage of affordable housing in Luxembourg. In 2009, this foundation signed a convention with the Ministry of Housing and the Ministry of Family affairs and Integration in order to promote access to housing for disadvantaged people regardless of their nationality, ethnic origin, sex, religion or political opinion.
In order to benefit from the support of the AIS, applicants need to fulfill the following requirements:
They have a housing problem,
They have low incomes that do not exceed a defined threshold,
They commit to receive appropriate social support and to collaborate actively with the project based on a mutual agreement
They do not own a property, neither in Luxembourg nor abroad
They have an official residence permit
They have a health insurance
They agree to improve their socio-economic situation while they are living in the accommodation
Applicants must apply first through the social agency from their city or municipality. A social worker fills in the application on their behalf and passes it on to the AIS of the applicants. The AIS thus constitutes a link between tenants and landlords. It searches for appropriate housingfor disadvantaged people with respect to low income or other housing problems.
Thanks to special agreement with the landlords, the AIS is able to offer an accommodation to the lodgers at an affordable rent. The rental participation is calculated based on the applicants’ income. Applicants may live in the accommodation for a maximum period of 3 years. They cannot choose their accommodation and in case of a rejection, their application returns to the registration list at the date of refusal.
An awareness-raising campaign has been launched in 2010 (European year for combating Poverty and Social Exclusion) to inform about the functioning of the AIS and to attract the attention of property owners. The campaign explains that, when working with the AIS, owners may benefit from a risk-free and worry-free rental agreement:the AIS deals with all the issues related to the tenancy agreement, guarantees the timely payment of rent (if the lodger cannot afford it), controls the maintenance of the accommodation by its service team and cares for the residents and its partners from the social sector.
If there are problems with the flat, the lodger or the tenant, the AIS is to be contacted. Its staff members visit the lodger every three months to follow up on the developments and to check if the lodger actively contributes to improving his socio-economic situation and thereby meets the conditions set out in the ‘social contract’.
The “Social Housing Agency” (AIS) was launched in October 2009. During the first four months of its existence, the AIS provided shelter for 65 people including 36 children. In 2010, it was decided to expand the AIS due to the high demand from both the landlords and the lodgers. By the end of 2010, AIS managed 60 homes with 171 people housed, including 94 children. At the moment, 4-5 cases can be handled each month.
Overall, the project has been rather successful since many of the lodgers have been able to improve their situation and find a new accommodation on the regular rental market before the expiration of their ‘social contracts’.
The annual cost of the project is about 25 000 euros. 50% of the costs are covered by EU funds and 50% are co-financed by national funds (Ministry of Housing, Ministry of Family affairs and Integration).
Due to its large success, the Ministry of Housing is planning to give a legal status to the AIS in the near future.
The possibility of renting a house through the AIS is provided for those who have low incomes or suffer from problems related to housing such as:
People living in an unsuitable accommodation with respect to their household composition
People who find themselves in a difficult personal situation, such as divorce, redundancy, etc.
People living in a precarious situation, such as domestic violence threat, expulsion, etc.
People living in temporary residences (for women, immigrants, etc.)
Homeless people or those living in temporary housing structures
Agence Immobilière Sociale
26 48 39 52
Housing - Housing policy - Social housing
inclusion of socially disadvantagedSocial inclusion & integration, integration of social groups, housing, social housing
By: M. Firoozi,