The presumably next Chancellor, Olaf Scholz (SPD), is particularly proud of one thing: the “Alliance for Housing”, which he launched in 2011 as Hamburg's First Mayor.

77,000 new apartments have been built in the Hanseatic city since then.

Now Scholz wants to transfer this model to the federal government.

An “alliance of affordable housing” is intended to ensure that 400,000 apartments are built in Germany every year - 94,000 more than recently.

The SPD, Greens and FDP agreed in their exploratory paper.

Perhaps there could be an independent building ministry again, like the one Germany had until the end of the 1990s.

Julia Löhr

Business correspondent in Berlin.

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The Hamburg model actually has a good reputation in the real estate industry.

"The culture of dialogue in Hamburg is simply different," says Andreas Breitner, Director of the Association of North German Housing Companies (VNW).

Politicians there speak to the economy without prejudice.

"Perhaps that is due to the Hanseatic-commercial tradition." Breitner hopes that the new federal government will keep it that way too.

At the same time, however, he warns against expectations that are too high.

The Hamburg model cannot be transferred as easily as some would imagine it to be.

"The federal government has been castrated to a certain extent in residential construction."

Frankfurt and Munich built more

The linchpin of the Hamburg model is the position of the housing coordinator. Monika Thomas has held it since the beginning of 2021. “The most important thing about our model is that we have a clearly defined goal, both in the coalition agreement and in a written alliance agreement,” says Thomas. “And that we monitor our progress closely.” Hamburg intends to issue building permits for 10,000 new apartments per year, 3,000 of which are social housing. The Senate is informed about what has been achieved in monthly jour fixe meetings with representatives of the housing companies and the districts. Building applications should be approved after six months at the latest. If something goes wrong, a task force comes into play as a problem solver. According to Thomas, he doesn't have to intervene too often as an arbitrator."The districts naturally have an interest in not escalating too many cases to the Senate level."

An analysis by the Association of German Housing and Real Estate Companies (GdW) shows that Hamburg is creating more apartments than other cities with this approach. Hamburg completed just under 415 new apartments per 10,000 inhabitants between 2011 and 2020. The average among the 15 largest cities in Germany was 331. However, the Hanseatic city is not the nationwide leader. Frankfurt and Munich built significantly more in relation to the number of inhabitants - without comparable housing alliances. The situation is similar with the development of new lease rents. According to the figures from the analysis company F + B in Hamburg, they have only increased moderately recently, by 1.5 percent compared to the previous year to an average of 10.70 euros per square meter. But rents only increased slightly in other cities as well.

 "Cube cough" and "Plattenbau 2.0"

The municipal housing association SAGA plays a key role in Hamburg's new building campaign.

She is to build 2000 of the 10,000 planned apartments per year, usually with rents per square meter of less than 10 euros.

In order to reduce construction costs, the company has developed a "system house" which - with optical adjustments to the respective environment - can be built at many locations.

This is called “serial housing” in technical terms.