Germany's social housing shortage grows

  • World
  • Thursday, 23 May 2024

BERLIN, May 22 (Xinhua) -- The shortage of housing for low-income households in Germany is worsening. Last year, the number of social housing units in the country fell by 15,300 to around 1.07 million, according to figures provided by the government on Wednesday.

This decline has accelerated from a drop of 14,000 social housing units in Germany last year to a new "historical low" in 2024, according to the Left Party, which was provided with the figures after a parliamentary inquiry.

"This is a fiasco given the unchecked rise in rents and increasing housing shortage," said Caren Lay, the Left Party's housing policy expert. The government funding of 2.5 billion euros (around 2.7 billion U.S. dollars) for social housing construction last year was "obviously not enough," she added.

With around 49,000 new social housing units created in 2023, the German government only achieved less than half of its annual target.

Meanwhile, the Social Democratic Party (SDP) government has failed its annual construction target of 400,000 apartments. A report by Table.Media showed that only 295,000 homes were completed last year, with experts warning of a further slump to just 200,000 new properties in 2025.

"Everyone needs to step up their efforts now because the housing shortage in Germany is a very serious social problem," German Property Federation (ZIA) President Andreas Mattner said last week.

Unlike in other European countries, a large number of people in Germany, more than half of the population, live in rented accommodation. As most people cannot afford to buy their own home due to high interest rates, there is "increasing pressure" on the rental market, the German Economic Institute (IW) warned.

Rents are steadily increasing in all regions of Europe's largest economy but particularly in major cities. According to the IW, residential rents have risen 8.7 percent since 2022.

"Too little is being built in Germany, and not just in the last few years," said IW economist Michael Voigtlaender, adding that interest rate rises and "chaos around the subsidies for refurbishing houses" have been exacerbating the crisis. Tenants were "paying the bill for years of mismanagement," he stressed. (1 euro = 1.08 U.S. dollar)

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