Affordable housing has emerged as a key concept in housing policy in a wide range of countries.
Berlin, Hamburg, Stockholm, and Gothenburg are all experiencing population growth and changing demographics; housing construction has lagged demand, leading to housing shortage and to increased housing costs.
This article provides a detailed case study on institutional prerequisites and political strategies to increase affordable housing supply.
The four cities focus on traditional housing policy tools: organisation, urban planning, land allocation, and subsidies.
Affordable housing is promoted through targeted tools as well as policies aiming at increased housing supply elasticity.
The German cities have come further than their Swedish peers in creating an active housing policy as they have clearer goals supported by influential politicians, and use more tools.
A tentative explanation of the difference between the German and Swedish cities explored in this paper is that politicians in Berlin and Hamburg have greater incentives to promote housing construction because of the structure of their cities’ housing markets.
Keywords: affordable housing, housing policy, urban planning, land allocation, subsidies, Berlin, Hamburg, Stockholm, Gothenburg, Germany, Sweden