In OECD and non-OECD EU countries, social rental housing represents more than 28 million dwellings and, on average, around 6% of the total housing stock. This OECD-report underlines the importance of this sector for social welfare policy and affordable housing provision, especially in the pandemic.

Rising housing prices, stagnating wages, demographic pressures and declining public investment in housing are increasingly challenging the housing markets especially in many European cities. The COVID-19 pandemic  put a spotlight on these enduring housing affordability and quality gaps, particularly among low-income and vulnerable households.

The report shows that since the Global Financial Crisis, house prices have risen faster than incomes in 21 of 33 OECD countries for which data are available. More and more people can’t afford housing anymore. Around a third of low-income renters spend over 40% of their disposable income on housing, on average in the OECD, and are thus considered overburdened by housing costs.

The OECD experts stresses that investments in social housing construction and renovation should be a central part of a more sustainable, inclusive economic recovery, reinforced by the EU’s “Renovation wave” announced in early 2020 as part of the European Green Deal.


OECD (2020), “Social housing: A key part of past and future housing policy”, Employment, Labour and Social Affairs Policy Briefs, OECD, Paris, http://oe.cd/social-housing-2020.