After 14 years we will meet again in Tirana for the ENHR conference and for this we are grateful to the Coordinating Committee that believed again on the same group that organized the conference in 2003.
You will find a transformed urban context of Tirana; you may even not be able to find places that you have previously visited. This is unusual for a city in a developed country of Europe, where preservation of history keeps almost unchanged the core of the city. This is common for the capital city of a country in constant transformation that in 25 years passed from a self-isolation status into an open country, member of NATO and future member of European Union; that passed from dramatic social, economic and political events of the 90s, towards social stabilization and economic growth. However, now that the speed of urbanization, economic growth and real estate booming has peaked down, several question marks are raised to society and authorities on how to further address housing and developmental issues with a sensitiveness on improving quality of life of people, by reaching comparable housing and urban standards of other regional and European cities.
The capital Tirana is an interesting case, often identified as one of the most vital housing and urban laboratories of Western Balkans and former “Eastern-Europe”. The creativity and entrepreneurial spirit of people in Tirana, is combined with very interesting leadership of its own mayors, associated with a vivid public debate on issues of city development, where housing and related services has dominated the public agenda. Today, Tirana faces a contradiction that needs to be addressed carefully: a significant overproduction of unaffordable housing stock, vs. growing needs of homeless and people in need for affordable housing.
The theme of the ENHR2017 conference is: “Affordable Housing for All! – Redefining the Roles of Public and Private Sectors”.
Housing affordability has become a growing problem after the 2008 financial and economic crisis. Policy makers at all levels: global, national, regional, municipal, or at community associations are striving to respond to the growing issue of affordable housing for all. The questions if housing is a basic need, a right, an entitlement, a public good, or is it just a consumer choice, a commodity or an investment within the free market – still remain a dichotomy of politicians on the left and right sides. There is a general agreement that everyone should have a decent and affordable home but the ways to reach this goal are still unclear.
This conference will be a perfect platform to open a local and European debate with practical values that goes beyond academic and scientific purposes and will benefit national agenda and the whole Europe.