Saturday, January 14, 2017

When can we leave? "Vienna Offers Affordable and Luxurious Housing."

From the article: "Karl Marx-Hof, one of Vienna’s most famous government-owned housing developments, was built in the 1920s. It's the longest residential building in the world." (Photos by Heimo Aga)

I remember seeing the blocks-long Karl-Marx-Hof apartment building in 1985, and being utterly fascinated. The article makes clear that the housing policy in Vienna is very much the product of specific circumstances. Still ...

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT: Vienna Offers Affordable and Luxurious Housing, by Ryan Holeywell (Governing)

Vienna has figured out how to offer high-quality apartments with low-cost rent and renters' rights that would be unheard of in the United States. Advocates say it's a model worth examining.

 ... A unique system nearly a century in the making has created a situation today in which the city government of Vienna either owns or directly influences almost half the housing stock in the capital city. As a result, residents enjoy high-quality apartments with inexpensive rent, along with renters’ rights that would be unheard of in the U.S. The Viennese have decided that housing is a human right so important that it shouldn’t be left up to the free market. Advocates for the Vienna model say it’s something U.S. policymakers should examine closely ...


 ... The idea that everyday citizens should have access to not just affordable apartments but also attractive ones -- and that it’s the city’s responsibility to provide them -- continues to this day. There’s a mindset that housing is a way to link residents to their communities and the larger city through design. “It was never just about housing,” Blau says. “It was always about the city. It was about not just providing private living space but also public living space to people for whom they were also providing housing” ...


 ... Thus, in Vienna, public space and private space are interwoven. Case in point: The city’s first libraries were part of the housing system. Kindergartens and day care, dental clinics and courtyard parks were all high priorities in the early days of public housing. “It made the division between housing and the city really kind of blurred,” Blau says. That trend continues, with the government emphasizing amenities that encourage interaction among residents. Those amenities also happen to be the same type found in high-end American residences. “These places are incredible,” says William Menking, an architectural historian, of the city’s subsidized housing. “There are swimming pools and saunas and bicycle parking.”

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