News Archive

EFL Topic Groups Navigated 2017 and Prepare for 2018

by | Jan 10, 2018

The EFL topic groups have been working hard throughout 2017 and have big plans for the upcoming year! Topic group leaders want to share with you what they have accomplished and what their plans are for 2018.

Torsten Rau from the topic group, Digitalization, explains what they have been up to:


The topic group, Digitalisation has accomplished a lot in 2017. Members had the opportunity to participate in two joined meetings with Eurhonet where they exchanged their IT roadmaps, shared best practices, and followed new trends in digitization.

The March meeting, hosted by GWG München in Munich, Germany, provided a workshop on how to display the value of digitalization to organizations or companies. Experiences with digital tenant life cycles and student portals were shared. Viridian Housing, from the UK, presented their Movemaker application to assist tenants in swapping homes. There was also a field trip to the Smarter Together EU Project site in Munich.

The October meeting, hosted by Intent in Paris, France, discussed the impact of customer/tenant interaction. Participants also shared their current projects and ideas for future projects. Some common topics consisted of general data protection regulation (GDPR), digital contract signatures, and “Nano learning.”

A representative from Eigen Haard presented on how they successfully implemented BIM from construction over renovation to maintenance. StartUps, such as YesPark from France and MailToPay from the Netherlands, shared their effective ideas for housing organizations, and Bolton at Home shared their social media experience gained over the last seven years. Aareon showed some new channels in communicating with tenants, as well as presented on block chain technology. They introduced the concept of a “flight plan” to steer the organization in order to achieve their strategic intent. Rooftop also shared their digital agenda and explained how performance linked activities must be joined with change management.

2018 brings new and exciting exchanges and discussions. Topics to be considered this year consist of developing a digital roadmap, big data, design thinking, GDPR, and sharing of best practices. Come join us and exchange ideas about digitalization in the social housing sector! Email Torsten Rau at for more information. 

Elke Heidrich shares experiences from the topic group, Social Domain:


2017 was an interesting and successful year for the topic group, Social Domain, a collaboration of both EFL and Eurhonet. The relevant and extremely vital topic all over Europe was the integration of refugees in local communities and how to provide enough housing units for the newcomers. This is a big challenge! The group shared best practices and approaches from all member associations and countries. Participants attended field visits in order to understand how such strategies were being implemented on the ground and conducted round table discussion with local network partners.

In June 2017, the group presented at the International Social Housing Festival on the situation different counties face with regards to refugees and asylum seekers and their best practices for accommodation. Following the presentation, there was a visit to a local support and meeting point for permit holders, run by mostly volunteers. Best practices shared consisted of new housing concepts in Amsterdam with student and refugee, internships and working opportunities in Copenhagen and Berlin, sports for integration in Sweden, and volunteers supporting refugees in Dortmund and Amsterdam.

During the autumn meeting in November 2017, participants learned about the local perspective on the resettlements and integration of refugees. The outcomes are to be documented in an upcoming brochure. Discussions on models to measure the impact of social interventions and investments, as well as the development of a digital platform to share practices and approaches, took place.

In 2018, the Social Domain topic group will continue to converse over significant themes. Topics to be discussed include the integration of vulnerable populations, measuring impacts of social interventions and investments, and tenant democracy and participation. The next meeting will be in Copenhagen on April 18th and 19th, hosted by the housing association, Bo-Vest. Please join us! Email Elke Heidrich at for more information. 

Hendrik Cornehl describes the Finance and Investment topic group’s shift from figures to people:


The topic group, Finance & Investment, is looking back at a content-packed year all about figures. We held three seasonal meetings during 2017. After our winter meeting, traditionally held in Berlin, we enjoyed a summer meeting in the beautiful city of Glasgow and a fall meeting in Paris. We discussed a variety of topics and gathered valuable information that we could take back to our respective organizations. Some of the subjects covered included different financing programs of the European Investment Bank, German bonded loans as a way of financing housing associations through capital markets, analysis and restructuring of loan and security portfolios, and revisiting the usufruct-model. Our kind hosts in 2017 were Dr. Klein (Berlin), Wheatley Group (Glasgow), and PERL (Paris).

For 2018, our group will prioritize the people behind the figures. The connection between finance and people is, of course, the impact that a housing association’s financing and investment activities may have on tenant lives. This is where the focus for the upcoming year will be. This does not mean, however, that discussions highlighting figures will be forever absent. We are still going to learn about recent trends, such as interesting FinTechs, Bitcoins, Blockchain, and we will update our knowledge on Pan European financing possibilities. If you are interested in any of the aforementioned subjects, please join us for a meeting! We would love to hear your thoughts and experiences. Email Hendrik Cornehl at for more information. 

Petra Saudi, from the topic group, Accessible Housing, discusses the past and present focus of the group:


In the end of August 2017, the topic group Accessible Housing had an interesting site visit planned for EFL members to the Winner of EFL/ ARA European design competition, Generations Block by Setlementiassunot.  

This newly completed development consists of 3 buildings and a total of 262 homes. The 3 buildings are interconnected and enable all residents to move within the living block. Offering a great amount of communal space, the residents are highly encouraged to meet and join in collective activities. The idea with the building is that enabling enough opportunities for meeting each other, people of different age groups live more together. A community feeling, very common in small communities, is now available in a big city as Helsinki. 

In 2018, a project is initiated across Europe based on this project and visit to explore the available innovative solutions for elderly homes, the goal will be to enable people to live comfortably and independently in their own home and at the same time to achieve cost and environmental impact reductions from buildings and the way they are used.  

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