Zurich to invest 300 million francs into making housing more affordable

Zurich to invest 300 million francs into making housing more affordable

To combat the housing crisis in Switzerland, the City Council of Zurich has voted to spend 300 million francs on the construction of affordable housing. Through building more social housing, authorities hope that the cost of renting a house or apartment will be eased across the city.

300 million Swiss francs earmarked for cheap housing in Zurich

At a meeting of the municipal council on February 1, a majority voted to create a new fund dedicated to building affordable housing in Zurich. If passed, the metropolitan area will become the first area of Canton Zurich to have such a fund.

As part of the scheme, 300 million francs will be used to buy land for affordable housing, build new apartments, and renovate older housing associations. The construction of these new apartments will be organised by housing cooperatives, non-profit housing associations, and in some cases, the local council (Gemeinde).

Housing crisis in Switzerland deepens

The vote follows recent reports that the housing shortage in Switzerland has reached levels unseen since 2013, with surveys suggesting that not only does Zurich have some of the most expensive apartments in the world, but they are also very hard to find. According to city councillor Luca Maggi, in view of the “devastating situation” on the Swiss housing market, and with “rip-off rents” common, state intervention was unavoidable.

Speaking to the Tages-Anzeiger, municipal councillor Patrik Maillard argued that Switzerland’s largest city was threatened with what he called “St. Moritzization” - the phenomenon where housing has become so scarce that the entire city becomes reserved for the rich. "It must not be that only the rich can afford to live here," he concluded, noting that even middle-class people can’t afford Zurich prices at the moment.

Opponents argue Zurich affordable housing fund won't solve the crisis

On the flip side, the fund was vehemently opposed by FDP. The Liberals, the Swiss People’s Party (SVP) and the Centre, with FDP councillor Michael Schmid telling the newspaper that the plan was a “step in the wrong direction.” "Huge amounts of taxes would be spent on privileged minorities and thus further cementing a two-class society," he argued, claiming that when trying to find housing through cooperatives, it’s more about who you know than who you are.

Martin Götzl (SVP) also criticised the plan, claiming that the scheme will only help 1 percent of the Zurich population - people he called “the percent of the lucky and privileged.” He concluded that anyone who wanted cheaper rents should follow his party in calling for a stop to “excessive immigration.”

300-million-franc affordable housing bill to face referendum

Councillor Daniel Leupi said that while he supported the plan to make cheaper housing more widely available, and while the fund is well endowed, it will not work miracles. In addition, despite being accepted by the council, the finer details will be confirmed in the next few weeks, and the bill will face a referendum, most likely in June 2023.

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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