Geywitz sticks to the new goal of apartment building

The construction industry considers the goal of creating 400,000 new homes a year to be illusory. Photo: Fernando Gutierrez-Juarez / dpa-Zentralbild / dpa

Construction Minister Klara Geywitz is sticking to her goal of creating 400,000 new homes every year, despite problems in the construction sector.

Achieving this goal has become even more ambitious due to supply bottlenecks and skyrocketing prices for building materials and energy, the SPD politician in Berlin said Wednesday. At the same time, however, apartments are needed much more urgently. The construction industry, on the other hand, now considers the goal illusory, as became clear at the beginning of an alliance for affordable housing.

In the alliance, Geywitz brings together real estate, municipal umbrella organizations and stakeholders from the disabled officer to nature conservation associations around a table. They should all work together to ensure that cheaper and more climate-friendly housing is built in Germany. This is already an important social task, Geywitz said. In view of the war in Ukraine and the many refugees, it is even more important. This means that yes, the framework conditions have become more difficult, he admitted. But of course we must not deny the goal in view of the necessity.

Huge need for action

However, the industry sees a huge need for political action. Urgently needed housing construction and climate-friendly renovation are on the verge of a setback in Germany, warned the president of the Central Housing Association, Axel Gedaschko. Massive supply chain problems after the crown crisis have persisted, there is chaos in the promotion of affordable and climate-friendly housing construction, and the war against Ukraine is leading to further massive increases in construction prices and bottlenecks in the offer. This exacerbates the shortage of skilled labor and materials, while at the same time increasing interest rates and energy costs for tenants and owners.

The director general of the construction industry association, Tim-Oliver Mller, like Gedaschko, sees the federal government’s housing construction goal in jeopardy. In the meantime, it can also be assumed that there may be a decline in new residential construction and, ultimately, in the construction sector as a whole. The Central Real Estate Committee (ZIA) has called for bold policy initiatives: we need a regulatory freeze and a suspension of lengthy approval procedures, he said.

Geywitz stressed that now everyone must be together. We also need support from the construction industry, which needs to significantly expand its capabilities but is under pressure from rising construction costs and material shortages, he told the German news agency.

Common goal

Alliance members should all be dedicated to the goal of building communal housing, but also develop public subsidy projects. What conditions for climate protection must new construction and redevelopments meet in order to receive government funding? And how do you make sure that all approved apartments are actually built in a timely manner? According to Geywitz, nearly 800,000 apartments have been approved but not yet built. Sometimes obstacles in planning made it difficult to condense into the warehouse, the minister said. For example, the question of whether we still have to provide as many parking spaces in the city as before. I think none.

According to their ideas, new apartments should be created mainly in metropolitan areas, but less through new building areas. Instead, vacant lots need to be filled, homes expanded, and commercial buildings converted to apartments. Overall, German cities will become denser.

Union real estate expert Jan-Marco Luczak criticized the alliance’s lack of solution proposals. However, formulating goals that are already widely accepted is not political, he stressed. The building minister risks getting caught up in ideology and theoretical debates on the first meters. This means that we waste valuable time until something actually arrives on site. Caren Lay criticized by the leftist faction, expensive luxury and condominiums do not solve the problem of affordable housing. Instead, she suggested that only social housing should be built in urban centers with a tight housing market.

DGB board member Stefan Krzell also sees a focus on affordable, publicly funded housing. In particular, families with medium and low incomes need such apartments. The federal government must also protect tenants from moving and rising rents. He suggested a six-year rent freeze. Federal Commissioner for the Disabled, Jrgen Dusel, reported a particular shortage of barrier-free apartments. Here a clear commitment is needed on the part of all actors, not just politicians. Designing accessibility from the start is a question of quality, professionalism and sustainability, he stressed. Only housing without barriers deserves the name of social housing.

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