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Vienna Mayor attacks EU plans to limit subsidised housing

By Maddy French

Vienna Mayor Michael Häupl has joined 29 other European mayors in criticising plans from the European Union to limit the amount of funds for subsidised housing.

Meeting at a 'crisis summit' in Brussels yesterday, the thirty mayors discussed their opposition to the plans that they say would reduce the availability of affordable housing in cities. The EU have complained that municipal subsidiaries affect the competitive private market and violate financial aid rules.

Sweden and the Netherlands have already seen the consequences of this approach when they were forced to abolish some of their housing subsidies after legal actions were taken by private real estate groups. In the Netherlands alone, 650,000 fewer claims were made for social housing after the income cut off point was lowered from 38,000 to 33,000 Euros.

The EU plans have been described as "wrong" by Häupl. "We do not want any social segregation, but strive for a social mix", he said in a statement. "All those responsible for this sector should have an interest in ensuring that affordable flats are available to all people across Europe."

Sixty percent of Viennese citizens live in subsidised housing, including rented, cooperative and church owned residences and people with an income up to 42,250 Euros are eligible for social housing, something that Häupl believes helps to avoid segregation and guarantees a social mix.

The mayors, including those from Barcelona, Berlin, Milan and Paris, have brought their concerns to the highest level in the EU, informing representative of the Commission José Barroso.

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