Milan’s masterplan: Working together for affordable homes

About the Affordable Cities blog series and #BetterUrbanHousing
People living in cities across the world are facing the effects of the housing affordability and cost-of-living crisis. OECD Champion Mayors recently endorsed the new “OECD Brussels Blueprint for Affordable cities and Housing for All” at the Brussels Urban Summit where they shared innovative solutions to tackle these challenges and drive more inclusive economic growth. They continue to drive efforts that shape a more affordable, equitable and resilient urban future.

Since 2015, house prices and rents in Milan have soared by more than 40%. This is partly down to the city’s success in attracting new residents. In addition to the 167,000 citizens under 15 years of age, around 700,000 people moved to Milan between 2008-22. Less than 40% of current inhabitants were Milanese 15 years ago.

Many of these are non-resident students, enrolled in local universities. This group have increased from representing 25% of total university students in 2012-13, to 33% today. Coupled with growing tourist flows, this is creating a housing crisis that puts households of all incomes under pressure.

Affordable homes

The City of Milan is implementing new measures to tackle the crisis and ensure affordable houses to all families. Around 10% of Milan’s accommodation is traditional public housing. This constitutes more than twice the average of Italian cities and the municipality is now promoting affordable housing to support residents not eligible for council housing.

In Milan, affordable housing means good-quality homes with high energy standards provided at reduced prices and rents. The homes are built by private operators, based on agreements with the municipality which provide urban planning benefits.

In Milan, there are approximately 4,000 homes built by private operators, with average rents between 450-800 euros per month, and average sale prices between 2,300-2,700 euros per square metre for a three-room apartment.

In addition to the city’s masterplan allowing for more than 8,000 new flats, further incentives have been established, leveraging ambitious urban regeneration projects. The city masterplan now requires that a minimum of 40% of the surface of new residential buildings larger than 10,000 square metres is dedicated to affordable housing. At least 20% should be for rent.

In the framework of the C40 Reinventing Cities programme, an international call for tenders has been launched to deliver at least 500 dwellings across 6 municipal areas with a rent upper limit of 500 euros rent/month for a three-room apartment. And new measures are being discussed to provide further incentives for affordable housing projects that also promote carbon neutrality as part of a broader affordable housing plan at a metropolitan scale.

A problem shared

Co-operation between the public and private sector is vital to boost the supply of new homes, particularly for non-resident students. Recognising that the existing 12,000 lodgings and the other 5,000 planned student accommodations are far from enough, the Municipality has gathered a roundtable with public universities, private operators and the Ministry of University and Research. They are promoting calls for tender providing public funding to support new accommodation with affordable rents.

The City has also reached out to different levels of government and other public stakeholders to support efforts to ease the housing crisis. In March, the City organised the “Housing Forum”, bringing together institutions, business representatives, trade unions, associations and citizens, who contributed to an open and frank discussion on the challenges and solutions of the housing sector in Milan. The city administration presented the city’s new strategy for housing, which seeks to meet the needs of the city in terms of housing and tourist accommodation, regeneration of the urban fabric, inclusion and defence of housing rights.

Homing in on a solution

In the years to come, Milan will implement strong and bold new policies to continue to attract investments while supporting those with the greatest needs and prevent them from being pushed out by gentrification. The success of such policies will depend on our ability to mobilise all stakeholders, and our ability to work beyond city borders to address urban planning and mobility through an integrated metropolitan approach.


Mayor of Milan | + posts

Giuseppe Sala was elected Mayor of Milan in June 2016. He is committed to making Milan a more inclusive, sustainable and international city. Grounded in the principles of social cohesion and citizens’ participation, his program focuses on social policies, in particular public housing, income support, and care for the elderly and childcare. He believes that a new generation of welfare, meeting the needs of all of society, is essential.

Before getting into politics, Giuseppe Sala held various managerial positions in both the private and public sector. From January 2009 until June 2010, he served as City Manager of the Municipality of Milan. He was then appointed CEO of the company managing Expo Milano 2015, the Universal Exposition, and in 2013, was designated Commissioner of the Government for Expo. Giuseppe Sala holds a Degree in Economics and Business Administration from Bocconi University.