Bettina Jarasch wants to rule Berlin: In the election campaign, the green top candidate is primarily focusing on the issues of affordable living space and climate neutrality. online mag spoke to her.
When the Berlin Greens presented their top candidate for the post of governing mayor, many Berliners did not know her name. Bettina Jarasch has now caused a sensation with her call for cars with internal combustion engines to be banned from the city center by 2030 . Behind all the projects that the Greens want to tackle with the city’s first female mayor is the declared goal of climate neutrality. This also applies to the tense Berlin housing market.
t-online: In April the rent cap failed because the country has not yet had the legislative competence to do so. Now the House of Representatives has asked the Senate to start a Federal Council initiative through which the federal states and municipalities should be able to regulate rent increases more closely. Why are you sticking to the project?
Bettina Jarasch: I personally campaigned for an opening clause for regional solutions to be included in the Greens’ program for the federal election. The lid failed because the court said that jurisdiction lies with the federal government. However, large cities with a tight housing market need a way of curbing rising rents. The rent cap that we introduced in Berlin was an emergency brake. If the Federal Constitutional Court had not overturned the law, there would already be a rent cap in many other German cities and regions that have a similarly strained rental market as Berlin.
The simplest solution would be to build lots of new apartment buildings in Berlin. Your competition is also promoting new residential construction.
When discussing new residential construction, the rising rents are often forgotten. The topics of rent regulation and new construction must be considered together. The social question is solved in the existing building.
When it comes to residential construction, we primarily need affordable new buildings for people with low incomes, but also for the so-called middle class, i.e. for people with middle incomes who are now also having problems finding something.e
How do you intend to ensure that the building space that Berlin still has is actually used to create the affordable new housing that is needed and not condominiums, which tend to exacerbate the problem on the tense housing market?
The decisive factors are land and building rights. In the case of building land owned by the State of Berlin, we as the state government can exert a great deal of influence on what – and how – is built there. In other words: we must not award building land and building rights to those who offer the highest price, but to those who build what we need – social and ecological new housing.
Building rights for private builders are already only available against the condition that a certain percentage of social housing is also built. We have to increase the proportion of affordable apartments in the middle segment as well. It is very important to us that we no longer sell urban land, but rather grant it as so-called heritable building rights.
And of course the new building has to be ecological. Cement, which is used in construction, is one of the main CO2 sinners and we want to make Berlin a climate-neutral city. We have to make more use of other materials, such as wood. Climate protection must have priority – and it only has that with us!
And if all that doesn’t help and the housing market in Berlin remains tense, will the big housing groups be expropriated? In your election manifesto it is stated that you can imagine socialization, as demanded by the ” Deutsche Wohnen und Co. expropriate” initiative , as a last resort. How are you going to finance that? The Senate expects costs of up to 39 million euros.
The expropriation of large housing corporations is not just a financial issue, but above all a political one. The socialization of these companies can only be the last resort when all other means are exhausted. It is currently completely unclear how exactly this could work, i.e. how it will stand before the courts and bring security to tenants in Berlin. There are still many questions to be answered. I would like to go a different way: use the pressure of the referendum to conclude a pact with housing companies, cooperatives and private landlords, the Berlin rent protection umbrella. You will receive incentives for energy-efficient renovation and new construction – and in return you are committed to a rental moratorium and fair rental prices. But I take socialization off the table first
Bettina Jarasch smiles at the camera: She can imagine expropriations from large housing groups as a last resort. (Source: V. Saizew)