Case study on housing

The case study is about the housing situation in Frankfurt/Main and it's impact on the integration and segregation of migrants. It also presents projects and measures to improve the situation.

Frankfurt is Germany’s leading financial city with a population of approximately 650,000, itis the fifth-largest city in Germany. The city is a European financial centre, and many large companies are based there. The highly-developed infrastructure, including the Frankfurt airport, makes the city attractive to companies, as well as to trade fairs and exhibitions. The job density also accounts for a large number of commuters.

As early as the 1960s, due to its industrial facilities, the city was one of the first main destinations for guest workers. Even after the halting of guest worker recruitment, immigration did not cease: unification of guest workers and their families account for the continued immigration. Today, almost 161,000 foreigners from 130 nations live in Frankfurt. Foreigners make up one quarter of the population of Frankfurt. The proportion of population groups with migration background is currently 38% of the total population of the city.

The housing market, particularly in the lower price ranges, is extremely tense. As a result of the (on average) low income level of Frankfurt’s migrants, they frequently have less housing space available than Frankfurters without a migration background (27 vs. 41 sq m per capita).

Migrants also tend to live in neighbourhoods with comparatively bad housing environments, a large proportion of migrants, and with worse reputations. However, ethnic segregation, on the whole, is relatively low, because the Housing Office (Amt für Wohnungswesen) and housing companies have been making an effort to actively avoid segregation over a long period of time. Since 1999, the so-called Frankfurt Contract (Frankfurter Vertrag), which exists between the city council and housing enterprises, has set quotas for the number of foreigners that must be assigned housing. However, the Contract is disputed, and due to the large number of foreigners seeking housing, it often cannot be upheld. In spite of this, the contract should be seen as a successful measure toward the prevention of segregation.

One reason for the relatively good socio-spatial integration of migrants in Frankfurt is that immigration and, even more importantly, the integration of immigrants in the city has been an issue for a long time. The city government realised very early the effectiveness and necessity of integration measures. The creation of the Department of Multicultural Affairs (in 2001 renamed the Department of Integration) and the affiliated Office for Multicultural Affaires (AmkA) marked an important step in city administration. On the community side, the AmkA concerns itself with migrants’ needs and with multicultural coexistence and is an important contact for all Frankfurters. The overall integration concept, as can be seen in the range of AmkA services, is by no means concerned only with housing.

In addition to anti-segregation measures, other successful housing projects can be found in the realm of housing environment. The two “Social City” projects (the federal/ state financed one as well as the municipal financed programme) promote the social stability of neighbourhoods and improve the housing environment. By way of neighbourhood management, projects are initiated, implemented, and incorporated with the most important institutions and actors. The Social City approach has been successful. The municipal funded project has been extended for a second term, in order to be able to adequately support further neighbourhoods.

The ‘Police and Migrants in Dialogue’ project, which is based on the long-standing cooperation between the AmkA and the Wiesbaden police academy, also deals with social stability. The cooperative work covers multiple areas of integration promotion and is carriedout quite successfully in smaller areas of the housing environment. Reciprocal knowledge is considered to be the foundation for appropriate interactivity and cooperation. For this reason, the project acts as a bridge between the two groups.

A further Frankfurt highlight is the Kids World Cup, which also won the integration prize. The organizers impressively demonstrated that with dedication, sport and neighbourhood-level cooperation, migrants’ identification with their neighbourhoods can be enhanced and social and tolerant behaviour can also be promoted. A less publicised, but nevertheless very effective means for promoting harmonious inter-group relations is the District Mediation project, in which dedicated volunteers mediate intercultural conflicts.

The initiatives described above are, as far as conceptual design is concerned, applicable to other European cities. The appropriate adaptation to respective local characteristics is, of course, a precondition for the success of the initiatives. Additionally, several of the projects require substantial financial resources and organisational effort. However, their success is primarily due to the dedication and creativity of the citizens of Frankfurt. The city of Frankfurt is a good example of how decades of integration policy have developed a local integration culture that represents an important foundation for the effective implementation of integration measures.