ISHF 2022

International Social Housing Festival 14–17 June, 2022

We, as social and public housing actors, providers and developers, are happy to offer a diverse program related to modern social and public housing in the form of a festival. We want to spark an international debate on the quality of housing as a quality of living.
In co-operation with Finnish main housing providers and public housing experts we invite you to explore and debate in three themes:

1. People first: quality of housing as quality of living

The changing demographic dynamics and the shift in family types beyond the conventional nuclear family impact the way housing needs to be conceptualized. Adaptable housing solutions that can be matched with support services for different needs become the norm. This is not possible without a housing policy integrated into the wider planning strategies no matter whether their aim is a balanced urban development or to address the challenges of shrinking and rural areas.

The ISHF 2022 will look at ways of improving the quality of housing as a fundamental prerequisite for better quality of living. While public, cooperative and social housing providers are the ones that have been committed for over a century, in many cases, to this mission, that is not necessarily reflected in their public perception. Working with the Press to get the facts and the data straight, countering the stigma, will be the final pixel in the mosaic of this first theme.

2. Achieving affordability and sustainability in housing

The energy transition of the housing sector is a priority towards a sustainable future. The ISHF 2022 will explore how this can be achieved without leaving anyone behind. The challenge is twofold, on the one hand to address the highly alarming phenomenon of energy povertythat touches the lives of more than 50 million households in the European Union, while on the other hand to ensure that the modernization cost is bearable.

To the latter end, the Festival will welcome events that will showcase various experiences with financing solutions to housing, particularly identifying the opportunities that the new role of the European Investment Bank (EIB) as the “EU’s Climate Bank” generates.

Another core question to be addressed is the potential of the district approach, i.e. putting emphasis on the shifting the debate from the building level to the neighbourhood level, in particular sustainable positive energy neighbourhoods.

And since these issues put the sustainability knowhow on the agenda, the Festival aims to be an innovation hub around construction and renovation with a strong focus on circular economy. Contributions from around the world are welcome!  

3. The right to housing: getting rid of the excuses not to guarantee it

The right to housing is recognised by the number of international treaties, including article 25 (1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. However, both national and local authorities have proven to be quite creative when it comes to excuses for not actually guaranteeing it to all citizens. Instead, there is a clear finacialisation trend to be observed around the globe that seems to have set commercial rules for the policy debate around housing.

The ISHF 2022 aims to become an evidence-based, practical guide on how to get ride of the excuses that seem to prevent policymakers from guaranteeing the right to housing to all. In this framework, three main issues will be addressed. In line with the leading Finnish example, priority will be given to abolishing homelessness but also to addressing the exclusion of arriving populations. Secondly, the lineup of events shall illustrate in an equally prominent way the crucial role of the public sector, particularly as far as fundingland management and the policy framework are concerned.

Following up the success of the ‘Collaborative Housing Day’ in Lyon in 2019, the 2022 edition is going to be once again a platform that will showcase the impact of active citizenship in the ways that housing solutions are produced. Community-led housing initiatives, including cooperative housingCommunity Land Trusts and co-housing projects from various contexts are invited to share how they secure the right to housing to their beneficiaries.

What is International Social Housing Festival?

The first International Social Housing Festival (ISHF) was organized in Amsterdam in 2017. It was set to be a global celebration of the long tradition of decent, affordable housing for all aiming to generate convincing responses to current and future challenges.

Over 10 days a diverse mix of events in the Dutch capital, Amsterdam were a platform of exchange for tenants, tenants’ associations, home owners, opinion leaders, self-builders, housing cooperatives, urban planners, administrators, developers, managers, designers, academics and policy makers.

Since then ISHF has been organized in Lyon, France in 2019 and now, the 3rd International Social Housing Festival will be held in Helsinki on 14–17 June, 2022.

Read more about the 2017 festival in Amsterdam.
Read more about the 2019 festival in Lyon.

But why a festival?

Over the last years, housing policy in most European countries has been increasingly trusted to market forces. The implications are becoming clear all over the world, especially in growing cities that are facing a number of challenges, including financial pressure and population influx.

New realities, including rapid urbanization, changing lifestyles, globalization, migration and climate change affect social housing policies on a local and global level. Proactive policies are needed to provide adequate and affordable housing for all.

Adopting a positive and festive perspective that starts with acknowledging the contribution of affordable housing to the overall quality of life of Europeans the ISHF aims to make the case for the change of course that is needed in the current approach of housing. Decent, affordable housing is a right not a commodity and a long-term investment with high returns. All events under the Festival umbrella provide solid proof for that from a very different point of view.

Who is the festival for?


The ISHF is open to both sides of the housing spectrum, providers and residents. Tenants, tenants’ associations, home owners, opinion leaders, self-builders and housing cooperatives who are trying to influence the supply of social housing have a key role to play. Planners, administrators, developers, managers, designers, academics and policy makers, i.e. people from housing corporations, universities, local governments and developers that have the organizational and financial resources to supply housing that meets the needs of 21st century society.

Who came up with the original idea?

The ISHF is originally a joint initiative by the Amsterdam School Museum Het Schip, Aedes-The Federation of Dutch Social Housing Associations, Housing Europe-the European Federation of Public, Cooperative and Social Housing, the Amsterdam Federation of Housing Corporations and the Municipality of Amsterdam.

Since the 2017 festival Housing Europe has been the key partner in organizing both ISHF 2019 in Lyon and now ISHF 2022 in Helsinki.

ISHF 2022 main organizers are ARA, The City of Helsinki and Housing Europe.