Ideas to Combat the Housing Shortage

“Crisis management” was on the program of the Muellheim party conference of the district SPD. Representatives of the party discussed possible ways out of the housing crisis – and suggested solutions.

At the most recent district party conference of the SPD district association Breisgau-Hochschwarzwald in the Müllheim community center, the comrades discussed new concepts for overcoming the socio-political crisis – in particular approaches to solving the housing shortage in the district. Birte Könnecke (SPD district chairwoman), Daniel Born (state parliament vice president and spokesman for the SPD state parliamentary group for early education, housing policy and religious policy) and Martin Löffler (mayor of the city of Müllheim and SPD parliamentary group spokesman in the district council) sat on the podium. “Housing shortages and the refugee crisis are currently the two outstanding challenges – in the district and also in the city of Müllheim,” said Löffler in the introduction. “Nationwide there is currently a shortage of 900,000 apartments, with the housing pressure being highest in Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg and Hesse.”

The situation in the Freiburg area is particularly precarious: “The district of Breisgau-Hochschwarzwald is currently the fastest growing district in the entire Federal Republic,” said Löffler. This is clearly due to the proximity to Freiburg. “Everyone wants to go there, but the city is geographically exhausted and the ever-growing population is spilling over into the commuter belt – especially in the communities with rail connections.” A tight housing market can be proven for 84 municipalities in the state – also for Müllheim. “Unfortunately, I have to say: As a city, we’ve reached a point where it’s no longer possible.”

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In addition to the housing shortage, there is the accommodation of refugees: 600 people are currently being accommodated in Müllheim by the state; 140 more are to follow this year – “and that in a city with an acute housing shortage,” said Löffler.

Daniel Born agreed. He emphasized his party’s special programmatic responsibility: “Especially as Social Democrats, we have to go ahead and offer solutions.” It is important to plan for the long term and end the “market belief in the housing debate”: “In the past, people always said: ‘The market will do it’. The truth is: the market has never done it,” emphasized Born. Rents have risen by 10 to 15 percent in recent years – “then people live poorly”.

In addition, Baden-Württemberg needs “a real housing offensive with more money in the state housing promotion and the establishment of a state housing association,” said Born. This should support the municipalities in construction projects and stimulate the construction of rent-controlled and inexpensive apartments. “The market will never do that,” emphasized Born.

“At the same time, individuals have more and more living space for themselves,” commented Birte Könnecke. “After the children have moved out, older people often live alone or in pairs in huge houses, because moving to a smaller apartment can hardly be financed and this is often more expensive than the house from the 1960s.” More modular houses are needed that can be converted more quickly. “Then we’ll need fewer new buildings,” said Könnecke. Löffler emphasized the urgent need for new apartments: “Creating housing is the most urgent social task we have.” This should not stand in the way of environmental protection either: “We now have a very extensive compensation for nature conservation and get to know every lizard personally in new construction projects,” says Löffler. In addition, the bureaucracy has to be reduced.

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The development of new building areas, better use of existing space, especially in inner cities, state housing promotion and more efficient construction methods – these are the most important proposed solutions for housing policy.

Finally, the assembly of delegates elected eight representatives with Hartmut Hitschler, Yannik König, Birte Könnecke, Tanja Kühnel, Ulrike Laitenberger, Laura Petralito, Oswald Prucker and Patrick Röttele for the SPD state party conference on October 21 in Heilbronn.

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