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Dr. Wolfgang Pfeuffer, co-founder EFL, retires

Dr Wolfgang Pfeuffer, one of the founding members of EFL, will retire from his position as the Vorstandssprecher (Spokesman of the Board) of the German “Joseph Stiftung” Foundation, at the end of this month (July 2020). He served the Catholic Joseph Stiftung for 37 years.

Dr Pfeuffer was pivotal to the creation of EFL.  Already in 2006 the first meeting with Joost took place during a European meeting in the City of Bamberg, after which they developed a strong mutual connection. Together with some Dutch housing associations, Rob van der Leij and the German based THS Group, he signed a contract in Munich to form the precursor of EFL, the Netherlands Deutsche Connection (NDC), the first European exchange platform for housing of its kind. In 2008, the NDC was renamed EFL, and thus began the European Federation for Living.

Dr Pfeuffer has played a crucial role over the years in the further development of the network. He initiated the EU funded project ‘IStay@Home’ , a highly innovative project that supported elderly residents to stay at home using new technologies, including through the ‘SOPHIA’ system, a platform for support and connection for the elderly.

The Joseph Stiftung also hosted EFL conferences and meetings in one of the most beautiful locations in Germany: the Nepomuk Hotel, a treasure owned by them. Dr Pfeuffer also provided Joost the opportunity to work for a few months in their offices in Nuremberg.

We say goodbye to Wolfgang, thank him for all these years of loyal support to EFL, wish him all the best for the next coming years, and hope to have the opportunity for a personal handshake (?) soon. We are certain that EFL’s link with the Joseph Stiftung will remain with Dr. Klemens Deinzer, already active in EFL.

Wolfgang – it was a pleasure to work with you, all the best.

Ben Pluijmers, Chairman EFL

Joost Nieuwenhuijzen , Managing Director EFL

EFL Social Topic Group: Activities Update June 2020

The Social Topic Group has been working hard since lockdown and, despite the crisis, has developed a steering group for its central project: the Social Index Project via virtual communications. The steering group includes representation from Clúid (Republic of Ireland); Radius (Northern Ireland); Clarion (England); Paris Habitat (France); Vilogia (France) and Gewobag (Germany).  Following the workshops at the EFL Co-Creation days 2020 in Amsterdam, key themes for the Social Index have been identified and a core set of survey questions agreed.  Some of these questions were going to be included in the Gewobag resident survey in March, but this was postponed due to the onset of COVID19.  The group hopes to resume progress with this project once business-as-usual has been re-established.   

In response to the coronavirus crisis, the group are launching a set of COVID-19 specific questions as part of the Social Index, which members could use to understand the social impacts of the current situation on their residents. Questions focus on wellbeing, including mental health and loneliness; impacts on employment and income; access to food and medicines; and support received during the crisis. These questions are currently being asked as part of the annual Clarion resident survey – examples include:

  • Have you been instructed to shield or self-isolate as a member of a vulnerable group?
  • How well do you feel you are coping during the pandemic?
  • What kind of impact has the pandemic impacted your household finances?

The steering group invites other EFL members to get involved in this project, with a view to comprehensively reporting on the social impacts of the COVID-19 crisis on social housing tenants across Europe.


Next Social Topic Group Webinar Meeting

A meeting of the Social Topic Group will take place via a webinar on 2nd July.  It will be the first meeting chaired by the new Social Topic Group lead, John Stevens and will focus on the social issues raised by the coronavirus crisis.  A short-term aim of the Social Topic Group will be to collate and publicise some of the good practice that has been developed by EFL members in response to COVID-19. 

Future Meetings

Subsequent meetings of the Social Topic Group will focus on forming new project ideas; developing tools for members; funding opportunities and possible partnerships. 

MS Teams as a Collaborative Tool for the Social Topic Group

Use is also being made of the MS Teams site, including publicising pan-European research projects, such as the current University of Birmingham study, which is looking into the impacts of behaviour change projects undertaken by English and Dutch housing providers.    



Get involved in new EFL Projects !

The EFL Co- Creation Days on March 5-6 in Amsterdam delivered a number of highly interesting project proposals for the EFL community. As part of our new strategic orientation with a stronger focus on joint development of projects on European level, EFL members pitched their ideas to their fellow members. Project ideas, lead by our members,  for which participation is open to the whole  EFL community. In these times, EFL fully switched to digital cooperation and communication. We use MS Teams as platform for (video) meetings, file sharing and communication for our topic groups and projects.

Below you find the overview of all the projects; indicate your interest via this link.

1.European Social Index
Summary: This project involves co-developing a European Social Index to gain a more complete picture of the people occupying housing stock, thereby adding to the statistical information available about social housing in Europe and allowing housing associations to improve their strategies and programmes, in turn improving residents’ lives. 

2. Achieving Climate Targets in Housing

Summary: This project will equip participants with a greater financial capacity to achieve climate targets for their housing stock (through building a concrete strategy/business plan), giving them both an overview of the general landscape and enabling each member to derive viable ideas and measures for their own company.

3. Map of Digital Business Models in the European housing sector
Summary: This project will investigate and identify digital business models in the European Housing Sector, resulting in a Europe-wide map of functioning and (socially or monetarily) profitable digital business models based on housing associations’ input, as well as a viable model(s) for participating in PropTechs’ growth.

4. Affordable Design Competition
Summary: This project involves co-creating and overseeing a design competition that calls on interdisciplinary student teams at different European universities to develop integrated design solutions for affordable living for a new development in the City of Helsinki.

Projects Yet to Start: Let us know if you’re interested!

5. Planet Smart City Matrix Tool
Summary: This project involves testing an interactive digital tool created by Planet Smart City to measure how social and smart a real estate development is with EFL members, notably housing associations. Testing the tool will allow Planet Smart City to identify the quantifiable achievements of smart city qualities, provide balanced solutions and a cost-benefit analysis of projects to members, and carry out a comparative evaluation of different smart city projects within the European housing sector.

6. Care@Home
Summary: This project involves putting together an application for INTERREG Baltic Sea Region funding. It will answer the following key questions:
• Which services should be provided for an ageing population and in particular for elderly tenants in need of care services?
• Which changes and strategic, regulatory and legal frameworks are generally required to provide age-friendly living and housing conditions, and how can they be applied in different countries and contexts?

Design for Living with Dementia
Summary: This project is headed up by the team at London South Bank University, who are designing and developing holistic systems and services that embed new technologies to help people living with dementia. They will trial these systems in partnership with housing associations, contributing to designing better services for residents with dementia and improving their quality of life in the process.

Registration EFL Summer School 2019 open. July 15-18 in Bochum

Smart City – The Future Role of the Housing Sector
The digital transformation of cities is a major challenge –and it is already happening now, in Europe and all over
the world. New technologies increasingly shape public space and find their way into our homes. They promise,
for example, more sustainability through resource efficiency or cleaner mobility, and opportunities for new
business models based on data. But is “Smart City” really the answer to all our questions? Will digitalisation make
our cities more liveable and help us meet our climate goals? How can we ensure that the changes are for the
benefit of the many and not of the few? How can the housing sector live up to its role as a forming force of
urban neighbourhoods? Program: click HERE.

Registration: Click HERE

For the third time since 2017, we invite young housing professionals from all over Europe to Bochum/Germany, located in the very heart of Europe. Four exciting and instructional days are awaiting you!
Join the European exchange of best practices and innovative approaches, develop new ideas and concepts in interactive
workshops, discuss risks related to the development of smart cities and smart homes, see real examples in field visits, meet fellow young housing professionals from other European countries, and build up your personal European network.
The European Summer School is co-organised by EBZ BusinessSchool – University of Applied Sciences, EFL – European
Federation for Living, Housing Europe – the European Federation of Public, Cooperative and Social Housing and the Housing Initiative for Eastern Europe IWO.
Learn from each other, share your ideas, be part of Europe!

What are the participation fees?
1,530 € per person; if employed by a company that is a member of EFL European Federation for Living or of the European Table for Housing Corporations (Europäischer Tisch), a reduced fee of 1,330 € applies. 

Includes Summer School fees, boarding and meals.

Interreg CHARM Project Kick-Off Meeting

The Interreg project, CHARM, had its kick-off meeting last week in Eindhoven, hosted by the Dutch housing association, Woonbedrijf. CHARM stands for Circular Housing Asset Renovation & Management – No more downcycling, and EFL is the lead communication partner. The project aims to reduce the amount of waste in the housing construction sector. The building sector is responsible for more than 60% of resource use in Europe, with more than 30-50% of material use taking place in the housing construction sector. 

The first day of the kick-off meeting was for project partners. The housing association partners include the EFL member, Paris Habitat, as well as other associations like Accord Housing Association, Zonnige Kempen, and Woonbedrijf. The four housing associations discussed the different types of circular building strategies that will be tested in each of their demonstration exemplars. The group discussed each of their schemes in detail, such as Accord’s plan to produce 12 virtually plastic-free dwelling, Paris Habitat’s goal to show that upcycling is possible and cost-effective through renovations and transformations, Zonnige Kempen’s work on producing a material exchange platform and convincing people of the value of second-hand elements, and Woonbedrijf’s initiative of developing 3 different types of circular houses. The group then visited the work site where Woonbedrijf will begin their exemplar. 


The second day was the Inspiration Meeting and was open to all whom were interested. Project partners came together with associate partners and other interested social housing associations, such as the EFL member Habitare+, to strategies about how to implement circular principles in social dwellings. They asked questions like: How do we define circular housing? What value does circularity offer tenants? Are social housing associations willing to pay for circular buildings? How are other social housing associations implementing different strategies?

The CHARM Inspiration Meeting concluded with a site visit to the circular deconstruction company, A. van Liempd Sloopbedrijven BV. They have the first and true web-shop of reclaimed materials in the Netherlands. All items are origin traceable, as they strive for transparency. They explained how sustainable, circular demolition is more cost effective than traditional demolition and the benefits of re-use versus recycling. The group learned about the different materials most often re-used, the material inventory, and the work they do with social housing company, Woonbedrijf. 


All in all, the CHARM kick-off meeting was an absolute success! EFL is proud to be a part of such an innovative and sustainable project. CHARM is still accepting associate partners. If you are interested, please contact Alix Goldstein, General Consultant for EFL, at For more information about CHARM, check out the CHARM website at

City-zen’s All-Electric Track: increasing knowledge and building a network across social housing corporations in Amsterdam

In the Netherlands, natural gas in the building environment will be phased out by 2050. Stakeholders, including the social housing corporations, are faced with an enormous challenge: the conversion from a central-organized natural gas-based energy system to an energy system in which dwellings can be heated without natural gas and  clean energy is used for all residential purposes. In order to support the transition, multiple solutions will come into play, including all-electric. More info click HERE

Hope for Housing Conference Report

‘Look out Vienna, Here Come the Brummies’

On Monday 5 November David Mullins, Emeritus Professor of Housing Policy presented a 36 page report of the July Hope for Housing Conference to the Steering Group of Birmingham Community Homes and to Councillor Karen McCarthy, Chair of Planning at Birmingham City Council. The presentation took place at Winterbourne House, which 100 years ago, was home to John Nettlefold, pioneer planner and first Chair of Housing of Birmingham City Council.

The report is intended to provide a resource for people working to promote collaboration, community empowerment, and community benefit through housing. It provides an accessible source of information on the national policy context, international models and a local vision for Birmingham Community Homes, the new enabling body set up to provide practical support to multiply community-led housing in Birmingham. It documents practitioner discussion of Dr Richard Lang’s models of co-operative capital  connecting local projects to resources via hubs and multi-level support. It provides great examples of how existing housing can be community-led too. It includes participant feedback and updates on the exciting changes happening in the Midlands since the conference.

Presenting the report, David highlighted the importance of timing and a positive funding and policy context and how innovations, such as the Vienna developer competition can transform things by incentivising community participation in new settlements. The report’s recommendations were welcomed by Councillor McCarthy and officers from Birmingham City Council who are working with Birmingham Community Homes to realise Hope for Housing. While tailored to Birmingham, the report provides a useful resource within the growing literature on promoting community led housing (a literature which is also summarised). As one conference speaker put it, ‘Look out Vienna, here come the Brummies’.

You can find the report HERE

Learn more HERE

If you are an EFL member and interested in this report, the EFL topic group, Social Domain, is working  this year on support for self-organised and collaborative housing. Contact Elke Heidrich, topic group leader, for more information at 

Project Idea Housing Cooperative LiM – New models for cooperative housing

This year  the German housing cooperative 1892 (Berlin based) and partners have set up the SCE (European limited liability company) Living in Metropolises (LiM). The ambition is to launch at an international level a new concept and communal not-for-profit company that promotes housing solutions.  LiM has the form of an European Housing Cooperative.

This concept note provides a specific suggestion for an application for European co-funding with (from our perspective) high potential of success. The Interreg programme(s) were scanned, resulting in a short-term opportunity in the ´North West Europe´ programme, with stage-1 deadline November 22. The programme offers 60% funding over direct staff costs and expenses (+15% overheads), in key LiM countries. 

Are you interested in the participation in a consortium which aims to further develop cooperative projects in North West Europe , together will LiM ?

Please indicate you interest to Dirk Loennecker, Board of LiM.

Please find the project idea by this link


Project Partners Wanted: (1) Post Merger Integration and (2) Strategic Alliances in Affordable Housing


Through collaboration between the University of Birmingham, Delft University of Technology, University of Cambridge, European Network of Housing Research (ENHR), and EFL, two new projects will start in early 2019. Interested to know more about the opportunities and conditions to participate? Please mark your interest by mail.

  1. Social Housing Provider Mergers and Post-Merger Integration – a European Comparative Project

This research proposal responds to shared drivers in multiple European settings for social and affordable housing providers to improve efficiency through mergers and group structures. Its primary aim is to support participating organisations to address challenges related to planning and executing mergers, implementing successful post-merger integration, and measuring outcomes for tenants and local communities. It will be delivered by researchers with experience spanning academia, consultancy, policy and practice in social and affordable housing development. They will work collaboratively with participants to ensure industry relevant outputs.

  1. Social Housing Provider Strategic Alliances

While some social housing providers pursue efficiency gains by entering into mergers or group structures, others select alternative forms of strategic alliances that help them meet their organisational challenges without merging. Such alliances may pool learning, expertise, assets, procurement power or other resources. Some occur between organisations of similar sizes in order to influence policy. Others set out to preserve organisational diversity within social housing sectors, so that tenants and local communities benefit from the different strengths of small and large organisations working together. The proposed research aims to support participating social housing providers to build, maintain and evaluate their strategic alliances by learning from like-minded organisations across Europe.

Interested to know more about the opportunities and conditions to participate? Please mark your interest by mail.



A handbook published by the Y-Foundation on the Finnish Housing First principle

The Y-Foundation, one of the key national developers of the Housing First principle in Finland, has published a handbook A Home of Your Own – Housing First and ending Homelessness in Finland to answer the many questions they have received from professionals and policy-makers over the years.

This book describes in detail why Finland has become the only European country where homelessness is on the decline. It also gives voice to the people who now have homes in supported housing units or scattered housing.

The handbook A Home of Your Own is a publication by the Y-Foundation and can be downloaded here.