Students welcome federal action to address housing crisis
Germany’s construction industry is in deep crisis, despite a drastically rising demand for new, affordable housing. Housebuilding is hampered by soaring construction costs as well as a quadrupling of building loan interest rates within just a year. All this has added to the decades-long problem of affordable student accommodation in university cities.
At a ‘building summit’ in Berlin on 25 September the ruling Social Democrat-Green-Free Democrat coalition under Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced a range of measures to stimulate activity in the building sector, including a postponing of the introduction of a new energy efficiency standard for new buildings and arranging better conditions for government-supported loans for acquiring housing.
“As of today, at 11 student welfare services in expensive university cities such as Munich, Cologne, Frankfurt, Berlin or Darmstadt, 35,000 students are on the waiting list for accommodation in a hall of residence,” said DSW secretary general Matthias Anbuhl commenting on the building summit. “The situation in university cities is dramatic, and something really must be done.”
Anbuhl sees a “true ray of hope” in Junges Wohnen (housing for young people), a joint federal and state government programme aimed at supporting the creation and modernisation of affordable housing for students, trainees and police cadets. He says that thanks to the programme, which was launched by the Federal Ministry for Housing, Urban Development and Building (BMWSB) in March 2023, many federal states have stepped up support for student halls of residence.
With more support student welfare services can engage more in construction and modernisation schemes. Anbuhl notes that with Junges Wohnen, which provides the largest amount of funding for student halls of residence since the 1970s, significant improvements can be made to improve the housing situation for young people who are studying or doing training.
Federal Minister for Housing, Urban Development and Building Klara Geywitz has announced that the federal states can reckon with the EUR500 million (US$525 million) federal share for housing for students, trainees and police cadets in 2024 and 2025 as well.
However, Anbuhl also notes that more support for student housing needs to be provided via the federal grants and loans scheme (BAFöG – Bundesausbildungsförderungsgesetz).
“The BAFöG flat rate for housing is at EUR360 a month. That will hardly cover the cost of a room in a flat shared by students in a university city,” he explains. “In Munich, Germany’s most expensive university city, such a room costs EUR720 a month on average. BAFöG levels urgently have to be raised.”