Germany fails to meet goal of building more affordable housing

Despite ambitious government plans to build new housing projects, the number of social housing units in Germany continues to decline. However, the situation varies greatly between states.

Social housing, known as “Sozialwohnungen” in Germany, is government-subsidized housing that plays a critical role in providing affordable housing for people with low incomes.

However, the number of social housing units in Germany fell again last year: At the end of 2022, there were about 1.088 million of these units across the country for low-income people, which is about 14,000 units lower than the previous year.

Germany fails to meet goal of building more affordable housing

This comes according to a report by German news agency DPA, citing a response from the German government to a question from the parliamentary group of the Left Party.

The German coalition government had previously announced its intention to provide 100,000 new social housing units each year, however, the result was negative, partly due to the fact that around 36,500 units are not subject to rent control, according to Karen Lei, a housing policy expert from the Left Party who triggered the investigation.

Regional disparities in social housing

However, the impact of this decline varies across Germany’s 16 states.

In Hesia, there has been a significant increase of approximately 1,700 social housing units in the past year, bringing the total to 82,172 units.

Hamburg also witnessed a positive trend, with the number of social housing units increasing by over 600 units, reaching a total of 81,006 units, following a decline in previous years.

Several states witnessed a significant decline

For example, the number of social housing units in Lower Saxony decreased by approximately 2,600 units to 52,601 units, and in Berlin, it decreased by about 4,500 units, reaching 104,757 units.

The majority of the new social housing units have been constructed in the states of Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg, with North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) having the largest number of social housing units overall, at 435,025 units. Bavaria follows with 133,129 units, and then Berlin.

When measuring the number of social housing units per 100,000 people, Hamburg had the highest rate with 4,281 units, followed by Berlin with 2,790, and North Rhine-Westphalia with 2,398.

The largest activity in the field of subsidized social housing was witnessed in Bavaria, where 4,056 new construction projects were approved. In Baden-Württemberg, the number of these measures reached 3,898.

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