According to Andreas Geisel (SPD), Senator for Building and Urban Development, it is still unclear when Berlin will again reach the 20,000 newly built apartments mark. The Senate is sticking to the goal set out in the coalition agreement of building 200,000 new homes in ten years, despite rising inflation and sharply rising building prices.

“We have the need for the 200,000 apartments in Berlin and the free space potential. Now the question is how we can get there in time,” said Geisel of the German Press Agency. “It definitely doesn’t work linearly, always 20,000 per year, if only because the instruments that we are now introducing will only take effect later.”

This applies, for example, to the work of the Senate Commission on Housing Construction, which is intended to speed up construction projects through close, cross-departmental agreements. “From 2011 to 2016 we had a significant increase in residential construction, then it initially continued at the level and then fell significantly,” explained Geisel.

“The situation is too volatile at the moment to say seriously when we will first reach 20,000 apartments a year.” The construction industry is struggling with incalculable price increases, shortages of materials and, in some cases, a lack of staff. “But one thing is clear: We will not give up this goal, we will not be able to give it up.”

The price development, especially the inflation development in the last few weeks, is anything but helpful. “But at some point you have to get to the point where the number of apartments is over 20,000 a year, that’s not rocket science either. We managed to do that several years in a row in the 90s.”

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According to data from the Berlin-Brandenburg Statistics Office, only 15,870 apartments were completed last year. And the number of building permits for apartments is also falling: in the first three months of this year to 2900, almost a third less than in the same period the year before.

From Geisel’s point of view, there is no alternative to more new construction. “I am convinced that the 200,000 apartments will be needed,” said the SPD politician. “The question of whether you can still afford an apartment in Berlin with an average income in the future will be answered today.” In ten years it will be too late.

“We can see exactly where things are headed from the developments in Frankfurt, Munich, Paris or London.” That’s different in Berlin, said Geisel. “If we want to keep this Berlin mix, we have to protect tenants from displacement, keep the city socially cohesive and create affordable housing.”

Geisel also sees a need for action as a result of developments after the Russian attack on Ukraine. “We have about 100,000 additional Ukrainians in the city, 55,000 of whom have applied for permanent residence permits so far,” he said.