Newsletter 104 – 24 September 2022

Action Alliance against Housing Shortage and Urban Degradation, Newsletter 104

Housing shortage in Cologne – Greens, CDU and Volt let it happen

If you want to prevent homelessness, you have to stop forced evictions. Current figures from Cologne: in 2020, there were 1,728 evictions and in 2021, 1,589 apartments were evicted.

The Rosa-Luxemburg-Gesprächskreis Sülz-Klettenberg (Cologne) in cooperation with Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung NRW invited to an event on the topic of housing shortage at Café Lamertin on 20.09.2022. Speakers were Michael Weisenstein, council member for Die Linke and Kalle Gerigk from “Recht auf Stadt”.

Mayor Reker agreed on the Cologne Housing Alliance with the housing industry on November27,2017 . It stated:
“According to the city’s population forecast, demand is very high, especially in the coming years, and amounts to 6,000 housing units annually.
Irrespective of this, the city of Cologne is pursuing the goal of promoting 1,000 housing units annually through public funding with a rent and occupancy commitment.”

After a full 3,923 apartments were completed in 2018, only 2,175, 2,013 and 2520 were completed in 2019 through 2021:

Since half of all Cologne residents are entitled to a Wohnberechtigungsschein, but not even one in ten of them lives in a subsidized apartment, the city should mainly build or have built social housing. This is not happening.

Michael Weisenstein called the general conditions for social housing construction in NRW favorable. The low interest rates of recent years are also part of this.

In Cologne, the housing authority can build and the city has a company with the public utilities that has more than 5,000 apartments for its employees. Their construction figures have been vanishingly small in recent years. The Stadtwerke group has no interest in building housing. They make their money selling electricity and gas, and if they think about building housing at all, it’s for middle management.

GAG builds too little social housing and the bad thing is, it will build even less than before in the coming years. One of the main reasons for this is that GAG does not get enough land from the city. The land it does get is so expensive that it is not possible to build many social housing units on it. In the city center, GAG’s building activity is very low. GAG only has a chance to build in the outskirts because the land prices there are still somewhat more moderate. But even there, GAG is not sufficiently served by the city.

The question arises as to why GAG does not take the lead in the major residential construction projects in the city. For example, GAG would have liked to become the developer in the southern inner city, where the city itself owns large tracts of land. It has also not yet been decided who will be in charge of the new Kreuzfeld district. The south of Mülheim completely bypasses GAG. Many apartments will be built there in the next few years if the investors do not simply prefer not to build for speculative reasons. That’s what it looks like at the moment; in many places, nothing is happening there, and in many places, far too little. GAG did not get its chance, as it should have. In Deutzer Hafen, there will be a very exciting debate. This discussion is already decades old. It was asked, for example, whether we didn’t need an inner-city industrial site. At the moment, it turns out that Deutzer Hafen is being so badly managed that the city will have to make a loss. Then it will be said that in order to get out of the red, we can’t leave the site to GAG, so we’ll have to look at selling the site at very high prices to compensate for the deficits. Rondorf West is also an important development area. This, too, will pass GAG by because Aurelis and Amand are building there.

One positive thing is that after many years, many decades of struggle, the city has decided to no longer sell land for multi-story residential construction, but to allocate it by way of ground lease. A small fly in the ointment is that this does not apply to the municipal companies. This is a catastrophe in Deutzer Hafen, because the site is being developed by Stadtwerke and Moderne Stadt, two wholly owned subsidiaries of the city, and the ground lease resolution does not apply to them, so that they can sell expensive land there, as I said. The DGB and we are demanding that 70 to 80% subsidized housing be built there, but it will remain at 25%. 

The cooperative building land model only applies to new buildings for which new planning law has to be established. And that is only about 50% of all construction projects. Where no building law is needed, but only a building permit, the cooperative building land model with the 30% social housing will not apply. But in this area, it would be possible to ensure that no luxury apartments are built there. The city can influence the layout of the apartment. For a 120 square meter apartment, it can demand that there be 5 rooms, a kitchen and a bathroom. This is simply not pursued by the city of Cologne.

GAG is a stock corporation, that’s not good, but it’s the way it is.

GAG is only 88% owned by the city. But there is further participation of foundations, which makes the share of the city larger. There are 2 – 3% small shareholders who make life difficult for GAG. As small shareholders you have no interest in GAG behaving socially. They want GAG to build high-priced buildings because they want the highest possible dividend. The small shareholders have now fought a very long lawsuit against GAG over the purchase of 1,200 apartments in Chorweiler. GAG was proven right, but it was time-consuming and expensive. On the GAG supervisory board, 30% are employees and 70% are council members. And among the CDU and Green council members, there are many who prefer private investors. In Kreuzfeld or in Parkstadt Süd, private project developers would not have to be brought in.

If you look at urban policy, you see areas where the Greens are setting the pace, for example, in transportation policy, where they are doing mediocre. But on the issue of housing policy, the Greens are not setting the pace, that’s clear, the CDU is setting the pace there. Of course, there are critical voices among the Greens, in many areas there are, but in the end it’s not them who decide. It’s the Greens who decide, and they get along well with the CDU in the city council. Then there is the appendage Volt, who are quite uncritical of these things that the other two pretend.
(Edited excerpts from the presentation and discussion contributions by Michael Weisenstein).

Current news about the housing shortage – not only in Cologne

With their properties, the churches in Cologne could contribute to social housing construction. We have already reported on the decision for the yield in the Antoniterquartier. The Catholic Church is also building past the needs of the poor in the city:

Caritas and Benedikt Kreuz Foundation are building “Quartier Hohenlind”
Housing for 700 people. Only 20% of the dwellings publicly promoted.
35 single-family houses are to be built on Caritas land.

Housing industry pledges protection against dismissal in the crisis

Tenants in crisis: “Housing is becoming unaffordable for many”

Tenants’ association wants to waive dismissals – housing industry open to the idea

Freely financed housing shortage

“Construction Ministers’ Conference” in Stuttgart: Unattainable goal stands, many demands of the states to the federal government

Aldi wants to build apartments in Ehrenfeld

The initiative has been running since 2019, providing financial support to municipalities and homeless assistance. The state of NRW will provide a total of around 14 million in 2022, 7 million more than two years ago.

Image: Germany has a housing problem

Construction Minister Geywitz wants to make it more difficult to terminate tenancies, Caren Lay calls for rent freeze

Termination protection for tenants: What could still be improved
The housing industry has promised tenants protection against dismissal if they run short of money in winter. We would have there still few ideas.!5879668/

Lack of space for commercial real estate in Cologne – prices are rising like never before

Broadcasts, reports, news

Student housing report 2022
Student housing 30 square meters near university – 787 euros a month

Many young people are getting more and more into trouble financially. In addition to inflation, they are also being hit by rising rents. Experts warn of a “loss of prosperity with all its consequences”.

Cologne homeless charity Art for a good cause in Mühlheim–kunst-fuer-den-guten-zweck-in-muehlheim-39960484

Energy cost explosion – why may photovoltaic plants & favorable dwelling be destroyed?

Homeless in NRW: State announces sudden trend reversal
Even if the statistics show a positive trend overall, Karl-Josef Laumann is dissatisfied: “I cannot and will not resign myself to homelessness, but also to homelessness as a whole,” says the Minister of Social Affairs. For this reason, the initiative of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, entitled “Finally a Home!” is to be further expanded.


24.09.2022, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m., rally against vacancies: “Homes for homeless and refugees” , corner of Friedrich-Engels-Strasse / Berrenrather Strasse

25.09.2022, 2 p.m. Mülheim and the changing world. Film screening “Homo communis – We for all. 4 p.m. Round table discussion with Cologne collectives. SSM Hall, Am Faulbach 2

27.09.2022, 15 – 21:30 Cologne Port Day

28.09.2022, 3pm Livestream: How will we live tomorrow in Europe

30.09.2022 Save our Souls in the Cologne Philharmonic Hall

10/1/2022, 3pm, Rally and Demo: Enough is Enough.

08.10.2022 European and nationwide day of action for a rent freeze

10.10.2022 International Homeless Day

For a city without homelessness

For a city without evictions

For a city without drug deaths

For a city without violence against women and children

For a city without deportations

For a city without poverty

September 24, 2022

Klaus Jünschke and Rainer Kippe


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