Why Social Housing Fear And Loathing? After All, It Works For Everybody

outdoor market in Vienna
Vienna, Austria. Still a great place to live.

Works for everybody? How on earth can social housing, which doesn’t directly benefit you personally, be touted nevertheless as a personal benefit to you?

It may well be impossible to prove, but one way to appreciate the potential of this bold pronouncement is to look for communities where there appears to be a link between social housing on one hand, and an entire community on the other.

Consider Vienna, Austria, often mentioned as the most successful social housing city in the world. Yes, its social housing roots can be traced to its socialist government in the 1920’s, which can be a frightening start to this evaluation if you come from a corner of the world where fear and loathing dominates any discussion of socialism or communism.

In spite of its socialist roots, Vienna did not remain a ‘red under the bed’ horror, and today is in a prosperous capitalist country with a reputation for amazing social housing.

So where might you fit into a ‘works for me’ picture, if you happened to live in Vienna, but did not happen to live in social housing?

Here’s a rather compelling argument based on broad evidence. Annually, the international consulting agency Mercer evaluates the quality of living in global cities and publishes a report. For the last 11 years Vienna has placed first. Indirect evidence, to be sure, that Vienna is a city invested in more than just lip service to a human right to adequate housing. It seems that the community as a whole benefits.

Are we setting up a false equivalency by choosing to compare Vienna to Sacramento, California where, in one of the wealthiest regions of the world, the county and the city snarl at each other via a lawsuit? Who pollutes the local waters: the unhoused, or geese? And what’s to be done about it1?

House the unhoused? Of course not! How could housing that even the poorest can afford (social housing) benefit its wealthier poop-fixated citizens?

Maybe the Sacramentos should take a closer look at Vienna, Austria? Read more in TheMAYOR.eu: 11 times in a row: Vienna tops Quality of Living ranking


  1. Try: Geese Dragged Into Homeless Fight In Sacramento, California