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Housing is becoming scarce in some cities in North Rhine-Westphalia. The country is giving money to remedy the shortage. But in many places there is a lack of a concept. The city of Münster shows that there is another way of doing things.
W.he important it is to have an apartment that has enough space, a pleasant living climate and possibly also a balcony – this became particularly clear during the lockdown in the corona crisis. Because many people’s lives suddenly took place predominantly at home.
But finding such an apartment is becoming increasingly difficult in North Rhine-Westphalia. In its current housing market barometer, the state-owned NRW bank writes that immigration in recent years is the main reason for the tension on the housing markets. It was not possible to react quickly enough to the increasing number of job seekers from the east, south and south-east of the European Union, who have been moving in since 2009. But that does not apply to all cities, as a survey by WELT among some NRW cities showed.
Supply and demand differ in NRW
The NRW building ministry also stated on request that there was no nationwide talk of a housing shortage: “There are sub-markets in the housing sector in which supply exceeds demand; in which supply and demand are in balance, and sub-markets where demand is higher than supply. ”
There is a shortage in residential construction in Cologne, for example. In 2010, 2746 apartments were built there, last year there were only 2175. There was a slight increase from 1104 (2010) to 1378 (2019) in Dortmund. There was a real construction boom in Düsseldorf: While only 978 apartments were completed in 2010 in the state capital, the city issued building permits for 4,175 apartments in 2019, many of which can be classified as inexpensive. Industry experts see the reason for this development in the action plan “Future – Living – Düsseldorf”, which the Düsseldorf Council launched in 2013.
Finding accommodation in Cologne, Aachen and Düsseldorf is difficult
This concept provides that at least 40 percent of the newly created living space must be “price regulated” in every planning process with urban land use planning. “With this instrument in particular, we have succeeded in reversing the trend and creating more publicly subsidized living space than has fallen out of the bond.” Housing is still scarce in Düsseldorf, but the city is trying to counter it.
It is particularly difficult to find good and inexpensive apartments, be it in Cologne, Aachen, Düsseldorf, but increasingly also in cities in the Ruhr area such as Dortmund and Essen, says Sarah Primus, Managing Director of the NRW Tenants’ Association: “There is a lack of subsidized apartments, and they are still falling more apartments based on social ties than new social housing are built. “Where social housing does not work, Primus believes that the country should take action again:” Selling the regional development company was a mistake, the country needs its own Housing association in order to be able to be active in tense markets. ”
Münster as a role model
The black-and-yellow state government sees it differently: “Plans to install a new state building company do not bring quick solutions,” says the ministry’s statement. There one refers to figures that are supposed to prove an active housing policy of the state government: From 2018 to 2022 the state spends 1.1 billion euros annually on residential construction. “With 5.5 billion euros, we are making more money available for the construction of apartments than the federal government does for the entire Federal Republic.”
What such a policy can look like can be seen in Münster. The city has been booming since 2012. At that time, many new jobs were created and the situation on the housing market became increasingly tense. In 2014 the council decided to introduce a “socially just use of land”. Matthias Peck, the alderman responsible for real estate, is still impressed today by the unity of the council: “The decision for socially fair land use was unanimous.”
Since then, there has only been building law if half of the area is sold to the city. And 60 percent of them are building social housing there. In practice, says Peck, the city bought far more land: In 80 percent of the sales contracts, the city bought not just 50, but 100 percent of the land. Because the planning security and the fact that the city pays immediately is attractive for many landowners.
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