Slump in housing construction: The underestimated crisis


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Status: 04/20/2023 8:31 p.m

Young families can’t find affordable housing, more and more money is being spent on rent, and the number of homeless is growing. What is now perceived as normal is a crisis with explosive power.

A commentary by Michael Weidemann, ARD capital studio

In times of great crises, even emergencies can easily slip out of sight. This also applies to the downturn in housing construction. We have long since gotten used to the fact that there is a shortage of hundreds of thousands of apartments in Germany. And also because the gap will probably not be closed anytime soon.

Not being able to find an apartment has long been normal for many

The disaster on the housing market is now being dealt with in everyday political business. “We are not idle,” is the motto. “And we’re already spending a lot of money!” Both are true – but at the same time distracts from the fact that we have obviously come to terms with the deficits in the housing supply. That we almost consider it normal when young families cannot find a sufficiently large, affordable living space. When millions of people have to spend almost half their income on rent. When professional mobility fails because there is simply no apartment to be found at the new place of work.

explosive power for society

The housing shortage is the underestimated mega-crisis of our time. Their explosive force for our society is no less than the war against Ukraine and the climate crisis. It’s just not as spectacularly visible and tangible – apart from the growing number of homeless people who are trying to make ends meet in our inner cities. The housing shortage is a crisis that is reaching ever broader sections of society. It changes our everyday life because it destroys plans for the future and triggers existential fears. It must therefore be countered with all consistency.

The traffic light construction program is threatened with failure

One may consider the demand from the construction industry, the construction union and the tenants’ association for a special fund of over 50 billion euros to be excessive. Her warning call that a “construction meltdown” is imminent for an exaggeration that demands attention. In this case, however, the alliance is absolutely right.

If residential construction falls into crisis due to rising interest rates, insufficient subsidies and workers migrating to other sectors, the federal government’s ambitious new building program can no longer be saved. It would be a fallacy to hope for catch-up effects in the coming years. The danger that the current housing shortage will worsen is quite real. That’s why action must be taken now – if necessary, with another “double boom”.

Editorial note

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