Cities throughout the world are grappling with skyrocketing housing costs, spurred by gentrification and rampant inflation. An increasingly widespread housing crisis has taken hold even in places that were once considered relatively affordable. In this context, cities like Vienna stand out for their relatively low rates of homelessness and their ability to ensure that all of their residents can access safe and affordable housing.
In Vienna, the assurance of affordable housing is considered a public responsibility. The government has an active housing policy geared towards the objective of providing affordable and secure housing for all low and medium income residents, not simply for the poorest. The City of Vienna builds and manages public housing directly, and invests in the construction of new rental housing and in the rehabilitation of older buildings every year. The government also provides additional subsidies for affordable rental housing, both in market and in non-profit building developments. Moreover, these housing subsidies exert a price-dampening effect on the entire rental market, which benefits all city residents.
Vienna provides an excellent model of housing policy, one that other cities should consider emulating. Residents of Hong Kong, Sydney, and Vancouver, the cities with the least affordable housing markets in the world, should all be jealous. Perhaps their governments should look to the Vienna Model for a solution.