ICCARUS Improving housing Conditions for CAptive Residents in Ghent

ICCARUS Improving housing Conditions for CAptive Residents in Ghent

National project

One of the main urban issues in Ghent is the lack of affordable, qualitative housing for lower-income households. The social waiting lists are long and the private rental market is narrow, making the value for money low. At the same time, the loan charges are quite low, making it quite interesting to buy a house instead. However, those more affordable houses are very often old workman's houses, in desperate need of renovation. But a lot of homeowners don't have the financial means to carry out that much needed renovation, so they end up in unsafe, unhealthy and very energy consuming houses.

ICCARus aims to renovate 100 houses owned by captive residents and is developing an innovative financial tool: a recurring fund based on the principle of subsidy retention. Unlike traditional grants or loans, the recipients need no pre-financing. Each renovation has a starting capital of EUR 30,000. The beneficiary agrees to a contractual relationship with the City of Ghent, and a renovation plan is developed, tailored to the needs of the properties and homeowners' wishes. At the point where the residents vacate the property, the fund will gain not only the net amount that was loaned but also part of the increased real estate value following renovation. In this way, the city can use public means repeatedly, triggering future waves of renovation. The project makes it possible for families with limited financial resources to improve their living situation structurally.

Before, during, and after the renovation process, captive residents are supported technically, financially, administratively, and socially. The individual guidance, combined with co-designing the renovation plan, has led to positive changes in the community. The process builds and strengthens the self-esteem, empowerment, and social network of homeowners. The process thus also reinforces the social life of the participants and the entire neighborhood.

ICCARUS is an innovative approach to house renovation of vulnerable consumers, which is a pressing matter for countries wishing to reach the goals of the European Green Deal and the Renovation Wave. Low-income home-owners can't benefit from tax reductions/subsidies because they can't make the pre-investments needed and they can't apply for an additional loan. The ICCARUS approach offers a solution to this problem.

With a budget of over 1 million €, the main activities developed are

  1. preparation.
  2. project management.
  3. communication
  4. research and development.
  5. promotion, recruitment, screening and selection.
  6. renovations and support/social follow up.
  7. financial management.
  8. investment in the recurring fund.
  9. closure and knowledge transfer.

The project started in 2018 and will last until 2022. It benefits the disabled, elderly, energy poor and low income consumers. It addresses the topics of: health, communities, indoor comfort (thermal comfort, housing quality), insulation, quality of dwelling, safety, energy efficiency, vulnerable consumers.

Some concrete key performance indicators (KPIs) of the project include:

  • Improved housing quality: all 100 houses now compliant with the Flemish building code.
  • Improved energy efficiency: all 100 houses.
  • Overall well-being participants has improved: 100 interviews before and after the renovation works.

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