In some European cities living in social housing is a misfortune. In Austria’s capital it’s an indicator of high-quality urban life.

Florian Kögler, 21, has something most people could only dream about: A rent-controlled apartment in a European capital.

For a monthly rent of around €330, Kögler lives in a 33-square-meter, one-bedroom apartment in a 1930s public housing building in Vienna’s Favoriten district, just south of the city’s historic center.

An internal courtyard means the apartment is filled with light, said Kögler, and a nearby metro stop takes him into the city center in less than 20 minutes. His rental agreement has no expiration date, meaning a landlord can’t kick him out or hike up his rent.

“I probably won’t stay here my whole life because while one room is enough for myself, it won’t be if I have a family, but that’s really the only reason I would want to move out,” he said.

Kögler’s situation is not unique in Vienna, where social housing is not exclusively for the poor: More than 60 percent of the city’s 1.8 million inhabitants live in subsidized housing and nearly half of the housing market is made up of city-owned flats or cooperative apartments. 

“Social housing policies in Vienna have been shaped by the political commitment that housing is a basic right,” Deputy Mayor Kathrin Gaal told POLITICO, adding that the city’s mission had been made simpler thanks to its determination to keep the massive stock of subsidized homes built during the past century in public hands.

“We insisted on not privatizing social housing in the 1980s and 90s, when other cities were selling their municipal housing projects,” said Gaal. “Today, more than ever, we can see that this strategy has been successful: Once the apartments are gone, the city has only a small lever to regulate rents.”

Read more at Politico.

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