By 2040, the city expects 20,000 families looking for housing , Source: Martin Corlazzoli via the City of Ghent

Ghent needs to invest in housing or risk wealth displacement

Ghent needs to invest in housing or risk wealth displacement

The study showed that households with multiple people are growing much faster than regional rates, putting pressure on the housing market

Last week, city authorities in Ghent announced the results of a new housing study, claiming that, unlike the rest of Flanders, Belgium, multiple-person households are growing. Additionally, the study revealed that if current trends continue, the city will face an inevitable housing shortage of family homes.

Additionally, officials have said that a housing plan would need to target multiple segments of the market, not only social and subsidised housing, or risk wealthier Ghent residents displacing lower-income groups.

By 2040, the city expects a shortage of 6,000 homes. According to an official statement, this trend is one of the biggest challenges facing Ghent’s housing market. Additionally, the city faces a rental shortage with student accommodation and in May 2022, it launched a programme to help landowners to develop student housing.

Moreover, the administration opened negotiations with local universities to limit the number of students and calm the housing market. The latter saw increased demand and lack of affordability for residents and families crowded out by large numbers of students renting houses for cohabitation.

Housing demand is growing faster than previously assumed

According to the study, housing demand is currently growing faster than supply and in 2040, there will be around 20,000 households looking for a new place to call home. By then, authorities except for a shortage of around 6,000 homes.

To avoid this development, the city needs to increase social housing construction by 16% and some 5,800 units on top of what is already planned. Officials say that Ghent is experiencing the reverse trend in its local region, where single-person households are on the rise.

In the city, households with up to four people are the fastest-rising group, meaning that the new supply needs to be comprised of more spacious units. Additionally, researchers note that not all housing is created equal and there is a notable imbalance between different housing types, affecting affordability and quality.

Tine Heyse, Alderman for Housing, was quoted in a press statement, explaining that local efforts need to cater to both social renting and budget renting demands, but also to a targeted expansion across all income groups.

She also pointed out that without this measure, wealthy Ghent residents would displace other buyers or tenants.



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