Housing subsidies in Austria
Housing subsidies are one of the largest welfare state redistribution mechanisms in Austria. Social goals are pursued, such as providing affordable housing for a broad section of the population, but also building high-quality and sustainable housing. However, housing subsidies are also criticised for contradicting the goals of spatial planning and land use. For example, sustainable buildings are built, but the locational aspect is usually not taken into account. This might lead to increased land use, disadvantageous locations for the residents and increased motorised individual traffic. For this reason, the Austrian Conference on Spatial Planning recommended that a catalogue of criteria for the designation of building areas for subsidised housing should be developed. In addition, housing subsidies should generally be more closely aligned with the goals of spatial planning.
Methodology and case study area “Land Salzburg”
The state of Salzburg was the first Austrian state that adapted its housing subsidies guidelines to these recommendations. In contrast, affordable housing in this the federal state is threatened by the highest average land costs and the limited availability of building areas in general. In Austria, non-profit housing companies are the main provider of affordable and social housing and they are the main target group of housing subsidies.
The aim of the present work is, therefore, to evaluate the spatial control effect of this change in the law and to investigate which locational criteria subsidised housing projects should generally fulfil. Research is also being carried out into how cooperation and coordination between spatial planning and housing subsidies could be strengthened in general. For example, spatial planning instruments such as a special land use category for subsidised housing could reduce the land costs for housing developments by non-profit housing companies and contribute to the aim of affordable housing. Various qualitative and quantitative methods are used, such as qualitative interviews, workshops, literature research, statistical analyses of housing construction and funding activities. In addition, a multi-stage spatial analysis of multi-storey housing projects constructed in the years 2019 to 2021 is performed.
Results of spatial analysis
The results of the work found that the federal state of Salzburg has extensive instruments for affordable housing in spatial planning law, but these are only hesitantly implemented. For example, the land use category for subsidised housing was only used in two construction projects. The housing subsidies law contains first signs of a spatial control effect, but these regulations do not go far enough in terms of their legal depth and financial scope. Therefore, subsidised housing projects are also constructed in disadvantageous locations such as areas with bad connectivity to public transport or without close amenities such as supermarkets or schools (Fig. 1).
Recommendations for subsidised housing
Therefore, proposals for a revised housing funding system based on the quality of the location are made and could be implemented in the housing subsidies act. In addition, the spatial planning act should be reformed accordingly with the municipal duty to reserve land areas for subsidised housing (Fig. 2).