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Problem Solving Must-Reads: Berlin’s Rent-Control Laws Stabilize Prices

Plus: A Buffalo neighborhood's reconnection and students in Lancaster wear puzzle-piece pins to make a point

Since 2015, Berlin’s rent-control laws have been reported to bring down the cost of living, which was at astronomical rates until the city installed its “rental price brake.” Figures collected by German real estate agency ImmobilienScout24 showed that the average cost of new rental contracts dropped by three percent within a month of the legislation’s introduction. Most people in Germany rent properties instead of owning them. Because Berlin’s combination of “rent brakes,” large apartment building projects and tenants’ rights is working, the city could provide solutions to the full country’s housing affordability crisis.

In a report released Tuesday by Germany’s real estate industry trade association Zentraler Immobilien Ausschuss (ZIA), the agency predicted that the country’s property rental rate, which has been high for quite some time, will soon cease and may even begin to reverse. ZIA predicts that the cost of new rental contracts and legally allowed rent increases will both begin to drop sharply. This is guaranteed in Berlin, likely in Munich and expected in Frankfurt and Hamburg, according to the report.

Rental prices should be further stabilized by new housing projects happening within the next few years. Germany has around 300,000 new homes waiting for approval or completion and most of them will be built in Berlin, Munich, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Dusseldorf, Stuttgart and Cologne. ZIA reports that these homes will be up for rent right as property prices are set to fall. The hope is that more realistic prices will entice people to move to the Big Seven German cities.

Read the full story here (via CityLab)

Here’s what else we’re reading:

The Highway Hit List

Photo: CityLab

In the 1960s, Buffalo, New York’s Scajaquada Expressway was routed right through Delaware Park, forcing park patrons to share space with high-speed traffic. Efforts to remove or reroute the highway were unsuccessful until a car crash in 2015 that got politicians talking. Now, construction is set to begin on a new, park-friendlier Scajaquada Boulevard. Freeways Without Futures, a bi-annual report, names the Scajaquada Expressway as one of the top contenders for a tear-down, citing urban pollution and unsafe conditions. Highways in Dallas, Texas and Denver are also candidates for removal. According to a report by the Congress for New Urbanism, “highway removal is viable—saving tax dollars, adding value to local tax bases and significantly improving neighborhoods without choking traffic.” However, a light tread is suggested when it comes to removing infrastructure in poor communities, especially since a highway’s removal could prompt a real estate overhaul. Several strategies have already been suggested to “reconnect” these neighborhoods if the highways are rerouted. (via CityLab)

Students wear white pins to remind them of white privilege

Students at Elizabethtown College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania are wearing pins in the shape of white puzzle pieces to encourage caucasian students to consider their privilege and take part in racial discussions. The Elizabethtown College Democrats, who started this campaign, posted on social media that the initiative was meant to “force everybody to think about racial issues people face daily.” They also said that they wanted to help make students at their small liberal arts college more introspective about issues of race—especially since the college is located in predominately white Lancaster. According to The College FixAileen Ida, president of the College Democrats, said white people are continually allowing for a societal system of oppression to occur unless they work against it. The white puzzle piece pin represents racial struggles and a need for equality. (via The College Fix)

Photo Header via CityLab

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