Housing is a topic at the centre of public debate. Which is no surprise, because there is a shortage of housing in the big cities and metropolitan areas. The sometimes heated debates have also resulted in a more fundamental consideration of housing – in connection with topics such as climate protection, gentrification, housing shortages, rent increases or demographic change.
Deutsche Wohnen was at the heart of a discussion that we did not shy away from in 2019: what is fair housing and how do we want to live in the future? We want to assume our responsibilities as the largest private housing company in Berlin and make a contribution to solving the problems on the housing market. So we invited people to take part in a dialogue with us – policymakers, experts, but above all the people of Berlin.
The dialogue began with a milestone that attracted a lot of attention: Deutsche Wohnen formulated a promise to its tenants – you can read more about that on the following pages. The next step was to invite interested citizens, decision makers and opinion leaders by way of adverts and posters to take part in the Berlin Dialogue for a fair housing market. Four town hall events and one online platform provided the framework. The invitation was a success. The events attracted not only policymakers, academics, journalists and sector experts, but also some 250 Berlin residents to take part in the discussion. And the discussions were decidedly enthusiastic. Often a lively exchange was still taking place long after the official event was over. Fair housing is a subject people feel strongly about – in many different respects.
And they expressed a wide range of thoughts, suggestions, ideas, and, of course, criticism, too. We didn’t want any of these to be lost, so we used this material as the basis for drafting our “Pact for fair housing”. It summarises how fair housing can work for everyone.
So what lessons can be learned from the Berlin Dialogue? Manuela Damianakis, Head of Corporate Communication at Deutsche Wohnen, says talking about the subject openly with others is the only right way to go: “The new process of open dialogue, deliberately seeking a sometimes heated discussion, is also reflected in a more discerning public perception of the whole range of topics.” So is that now the end of the “Fair housing” debate? “No”, says Manuela Damianakis, “for Deutsche Wohnen the dialogue is certainly not over. Our aim is rather to establish ourselves permanently in the public eye as an openminded player, who is always willing to talk and to work out constructive solutions with everyone involved.”