Social Housing in Hamburg Part II:

Anyone who visited Hamburg knows it is a world class city.  The city is bustling and the food, entertainment and nightlife are top notch.  Like any great city, it is made by the people that live there.  A city cannot reach its full potential without a diverse population.  Different ages, income levels, races, ethnicities all add value to a city and its vibrancy.  The housing market plays a fundamental role in ensuring different populations can afford to live work and prosper in any city. Hamburg as mentioned in my last blog is adding population a rapid pace.  This combined with a shortage of social housing units is making it tough for lower income renters in the city.  Below is an explanation of several funding methods being used in Hamburg as it relates to housing.  Also included is a brief discussion around occupancy and integration.

  1. Hamburg and Home Ownership: Not all funding in Hamburg relates to rental housing. Hamburg funded several hundred families in purchasing a property. This funding went to lower income families.  Below are the specifics.

Object of Funding:  Construction and Acquisition of single, double and row houses and apartment building.

Targeted Income Groups: These are the income limits for the program funding.  All funding (in euros) are based on these numbers.

1 Person- 12,000

2 Person- 18,000

1 Adult, 1 Child-19,000

1 Adult, 2 Children- 24,000

1 Adult, 3 Children- 29,200

2 Adults, 1 Child-23,100

2 Adults, 2 Children- 28,200

2 Adults, 3 Children 33,300

Buyers Personal Investment: min. 15% (money, land and building parts, self-help) of which at least 6% of must be cash.

Loan Conditions:

Running time is between 15-30 years

Interest rate .6%

Bond interest rate: 5 years (after the development of capital market rate)

Cost: 1% that will not be repaid

Repayment: 2% for the first 20 years and then 5% after.

Success of Program: In 2010, 267 new 1 and 2 bedroom family houses were either bought or built for social purposes and as well as 40 condos.  All together over 28 million Euros were spent on social housing funding.

II: Funding in Hamburg for Development of Social Rental Housing:

Funding is provided through low-interest loans, which are composed of a flat-rate loan amount for construction and ancillary costs and premiums for land costs and possibly parking spaces.  In addition, an expense allowance of € 1 per month is granted for the funding period. The retention period is comparatively low at 15 years.  That means the contract for affordability is only for 15 years.  A program to extend the loan term and thus the bond duration is in preparation.  Another program in place functions somewhat like the voucher program in the USA.  The city will look to place tenants in various apartment buildings or other units throughout the city with the goal of social integration in mind.  It functions a little different from the USA because there are locked in fixed contracts.  Two options are available in Hamburg (see below).  Right now the programs are not generating a lot of interest.  The program A is more attractive for building owners because the subsidy is relatively still high while the time commitment is not as long.

Program A: One time occupancy rights of an apartment with a rent control of more than 10 years.   One-time grant of € 15,000 per residential unit. Program B: long-term occupancy rights with a delivery period of 20 years.  One-time grant of € 25,000 per residential unit.

III: Occupancy Practice in Hamburg: 

Occupancy in social housing in Hamburg depends on the renter.  The renter must take care to receive a Wohnberechtigungsschein or B-Schein.  This is a document that basically says a person qualifies for a social housing unit.  A person will then visit SAGA which is the largest social housing municipal company in Hamburg and the whole of Germany.  SAHA owns and manages over 130,000 units of housing and in cooperation with other cooperatives in Hamburg take care for the social housing needs of those in Hamburg.  SAGA owns around 40% of the total stock and in cooperation with 10 other companies handles issues of emergency housing and housing for the poor.  For example, a household can receive a Dringlichkeitsshein or a document saying they need housing urgently.  This group includes households that have to move out of their current apartment short term urgently seeking accommodation.  These households are supported in finding accommodation.   The social authority also helps those who are considered homeless.  The number of urgency cases in Hamburg show a downwards trend.

IV: Integration of Different Groups into Society:

In Hamburg integrating social groups is an important part of the housing policy.  Included specifically in that group is:

  • People with social or psychiatric issues.
  • People with physical disabilities that are able to live alone.
  • People coming from an impatient facility and now can live on their own.
  • Unsupported young adults.

The helping of homeless is better in Hamburg but still needs improvement.  The improvement came after a contract between SAGA and the other social housing providers and co-ops was signed.  This agreement gives priorty to homeless families in the city.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: