Statistics: One in ten lives in an overcrowded apartment

Around 8.

Statistics: One in ten lives in an overcrowded apartment

Around 8.6 million people in Germany live in overcrowded apartments - more than ten percent of the population. Single parents and people in big cities are particularly affected, as the Federal Statistical Office reported on Thursday in Wiesbaden. Welfare organizations see an urgent need for action: "Affordable, appropriate housing is one of the major social issues of our time," says Rolf Rosenbrock, chairman of the joint association.

According to the statistics, the so-called overcrowding rate in households with children was 15.9 percent in 2021. The risk increases with the number of children: 30.7 percent of families with three or more children lived in apartments that were too small. 28.4 percent were single parents and their children. In households without children, on the other hand, the overcrowding rate was only 6.5 percent.

The data is based on the first results of a survey on income and living conditions in the EU from 2021. According to the underlying definition, an apartment is considered overcrowded "if it has too few rooms in relation to the number of people", as the statisticians summarized. How many rooms must be available depends, for example, on the age and gender of the children.

For children under the age of twelve, a common room is sufficient; if they are of the same sex, this also extends to 17 years; for boys and girls between the ages of 12 and 17 there must be two rooms; over 18 the child must have their own room.

Children and young people are particularly affected

The lack of housing therefore often affects children and young people: the overcrowding rate among minors (17.8 percent) was around six times higher than among people of retirement age (3 percent). According to the definition, a one-person household can also be overcrowded, namely if there is no separate living room and bedroom. In 2021, this applied to almost twelve percent of one-person households.

Housing is scarce, especially in cities. The proportion of people in overcrowded apartments was 15.5 percent in larger cities. In smaller cities (8.6 percent) or rural areas (4.9 percent), the proportion was significantly smaller.

"Above all, we have a shortage of small and very large apartments," says Stefan Kunz, specialist for homeless assistance and social counseling at Caritas: small ones for single parents, large ones for families with many children. In big cities and increasingly in rural areas, there is also the problem of costs: "There is simply a lack of inexpensive apartments." The situation is particularly difficult for "vulnerable groups" such as people with a migration background or the unemployed - categories that the statistics do not record.

In order to counteract the lack of affordable housing, the federal government had set the goal of building 400,000 new apartments annually, including 100,000 social housing units. Federal Building Minister Klara Geywitz (SPD) admitted that there was a need to catch up at the "Housing Industry Day" this week in Berlin. Even under good general conditions, the industry was not able to even come close to achieving the current new construction target.

destinations far away

A shortage of skilled workers, scarcity of materials, high interest rates and construction costs made the goals of the federal government "unattainable", said the President of the Federal Association of German Housing and Real Estate Companies (GdW), Axel Gedaschko, at the conference.

Sufficient social housing space is "realistically only available through funding," says Caritas spokesman Kunz. He sees the states as more responsible: the federal government provides a lot of money, the municipalities see the need, "I experience the states as less committed".

And the creation of sufficient social housing alone "will not be enough," says Rosenbrock vom Paritätischen: "We need a speedy implementation of the new non-profit housing and finally a legal regulation that limits rent explosions more effectively."

Incidentally, the average overcrowding rate for all 27 EU member states was 17.1 percent, higher than in Germany. In 2021, the most people in overcrowded dwellings were in Latvia (41.3 percent) and Romania (40.0 percent), the lowest in Malta (2.9 percent) and Cyprus (2.3 percent).