Vienna SPÖ presents smart flats concept

The Viennese government plans to offer affordable apartments to young families and singles who are on a low income.

Viennese Social Democratic (SPÖ) Housing Councillor Michael Ludwig said at the SPÖ Vienna’s summit in Rust, Burgenland, yesterday (Thurs) that his department would create 2,000 “smart flats” within the coming two years. Ludwig said the apartments would be around 40 square metres large. He promised that expenditure for rent, electricity and heating would not surpass 300 Euros altogether a month. The councillor – who is seen as a possible successor of Michael Häupl as mayor and SPÖ Vienna chairman – claimed that households could save up to 50 per cent compared to the average price of other apartments by opting for the new type of flats which would be created in several districts.

The Viennese SPÖ – which cooperates with the Greens in the city parliament – is pressurised to make attractive offers to voters following the Viennese coalition’s recent string of fee increases. SPÖ and Green Party decided to charge people 72 Euros for owning a dog a year instead of 43.60 Euros. Around 52,000 canines live in Viennese households but experts think that there could be twice as many.

Parking a car in the federal capital’s nine central districts costs two instead of 1.20 Euros an hour since the beginning of this month. A single ticket for means of public transport will cost two Euros from May. This kind of ticket currently costs just 1.80 Euros. The price for a weekly pass is set to rise from 14 to 15 Euros. Households must pay more for the supply of tap water and the city’s garbage disposal service already since the beginning of this year.

Political analysts link the various tax increases to the city’s empty coffers but also underline that the government coalition might have decided to carry them out now as residents will elect a new city parliament only in three years’ time. The current city hall coalition was formed after the SPÖ had to look for partners due to its disappointing performance in the city ballot of 2010. The share of the left-wing faction – which has named the mayor ever since the end of World War Two (WWII) – dropped by around five per cent to 44.3 per cent.

The Greens bagged 12.64 per cent, down by almost two per cent compared to 2005. There were smiles all-round at the Viennese Freedom Party’s (FPÖ) headquarters on election night. The rightists claimed nearly 26 per cent in October 2010 after having won around 15 per cent in October 2005. Surveys suggest that the FPÖ could do even better in the next ballot. SPÖ, Greens and the People’s Party – which won 14 per cent in 2010 – are currently working on strategies which could stop the FPÖ’s upward trend.

Ludwig recently announced that nearly 2,800 surveillance cameras had been installed at the city’s social housing apartment blocks. Wiener Wohnen, an outsourced company monitored by the city of Vienna and operated by Ludwig’s office, manages around 220,000 such flats. The housing councillor said that the increasing number of cameras in parks and hallways could help to raise the feeling of security among tenants. Ludwig emphasised that especially the number of graffiti offences and cases of wilful damage to property signficantly dropped where surveillance cameras had been set up.

Meanwhile, the head of a property developer’s administration board has said he expects apartments sold and rented out by private companies to become more expensive. Conwert Immobilien Invest AG (Conwert) manager Johannes Meran said: “I think the price for owner-occupied apartments in Vienna will continue to rise. Increases of five to 10 per cent are possible.”

Meran explained that he saw no indicators for a contrary development. The average price for houses and owner-occupied apartments located in the capital had risen strongly in the past years. The Austrian Labour Chamber (AK) found that rents for flats in Austria jumped by 34.5 per cent between 2001 and 2010. The country’s inflation rate rose by only 21 per cent during the same period, according to the organisation.