DSW: Affordable housing in short supply

Affordable housing in short supply: 32,000 students on waiting lists at eleven student unions

  • Deutsches Studierendenwerk (DSW): Housing situation for students remains difficult at the beginning of this winter semester
  • DSW Chairman Matthias Anbuhl: "Lack of affordable housing for students is a blatant deplorable state of affairs".
  • Anbuhl: Federal-state program "Young Housing" a ray of hope
  • Demand: Program to be made permanent, strong co-funding by all federal states
  • More state support for heating replacement as part of the Building Energy Act (GEG)
  • BAföG must be increased, flat rate for housing costs is not enough

Berlin, 16 October 2023. In eleven selected university cities, more than 32,000 students are on the waiting list for a place in a hall of residence at the student unions; at the Munich Upper Bavaria student union alone, there are 12,00 students. This is according to Deutsche Studierendenwerk (DSW), the association of student and student services organizations that operate around 1,700 student dormitories with around 196,000 places nationwide.

As of 10 October 2023, student unions in Berlin, Darmstadt, Erlangen-Nuremberg, Frankfurt am Main, Göttingen, Hamburg, Hanover, Heidelberg, Cologne, Mainz and Munich have informed the DSW of the number of students who are on their waiting lists for a place in a hall of residence.

DSW Secretary General Matthias Anbuhl comments:
"The lack of affordable housing for students in university towns has been a glaring grievance for decades, a structural deficit of the German higher education system and a social problem. The number of state-subsidized study places has increased by 52% since 2007, while the number of state-subsidized dormitory places at the student unions has only increased by 7% - this gap must not be allowed to widen any further.

The choice of where to study must not depend on parents' wallets. We cannot have a two-tier society: students from wealthy families who can live in expensive university towns, and students from less well-off families who have to study where they can just about afford the rent.

The federal-state program 'Young Housing' launched by the federal government to create and modernize affordable housing for students, trainees and police trainees is a real ray of hope. Although it comes at a time of enormous economic difficulty and a new period of high interest rates, it is an important signal, especially in view of the waiting list figures of the student unions, that the federal government is finally getting back into student housing construction after decades.

We are now seeing a new, positive dynamic in the states thanks to the Young Housing program; many states have greatly improved their previous dormitory funding, and the student unions can tackle construction and modernization projects thanks to this increased funding. If all the states follow suit, the housing situation for young people in education can be significantly improved in the medium and long term.

But this is a medium, not a short, haul. Federal Construction Minister Klara Geywitz has already held out the prospect of continuing the Young People's Housing Program in 2024 and 2025 with federal funding of 500 million euros. We now need this kind of continuation of the program and strong support from the federal states. With 1.5 billion euros in federal funding alone in 2023, 2024 and 2025, 'Junges Wohnen' would be the largest housing support program since the expansion of higher education in the 1970s.

The federal government must also provide more support for heating replacements as part of the Building Energy Code (BEC). The heating turnaround is the right thing to do, but it must be cushioned socially. For the student unions, the GEG means that they will have to convert 40% of their dormitory places, around 78,000, from gas to more climate-friendly, cleaner energy sources. To do this, they need more government funding than has been provided so far. Otherwise, they would have no choice but to pass on the additional costs of heating replacement to students in the form of rent increases - something no one can seriously want.

We also urgently need increases in BAföG. The BAföG flat rate for housing costs is currently 360 euros per month, which is hardly enough for a room in a shared apartment in any German university town. In Munich, the most expensive university city in Germany, you have to pay 720 euros a month. BAföG must be increased quickly."

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