Denmark proposes affordable rental housing in Christiania enclave

Christiania, here photographed in September 2021, could be one of a number of parts of Copenhagen to get new affordable rental housing under a new government plan.
Christiania, here photographed in September 2021, could be one of a number of parts of Copenhagen to get new affordable rental housing under a new government plan. Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix
Denmark’s government wants to build subsidised housing in Christiania, an alternative enclave of Copenhagen first established as a squat in the 1970s.

Christiania, home to around 900 people, is now legally owned by its residents and recently marked the 50-year anniversary of its foundation when squatters moved into a disused army barracks in 1971.

By proposing the construction of new subsidised housing in Christiania, the government could change the ‘freetown’ significantly.

The proposal to put new homes in the area part of a plan to build 22,000 new subsidised homes in Denmark by 2035, presented by the government on Tuesday.

The proposal text lists a number of specific locations in Copenhagen where new subsidised housing could be established, including parts of Nørrebro and Bispebjerg as well as Christiania.

“If we want to create balance in all of Denmark, we also need to create balance in our big cities. That balance is tipped when it’s hard for normal people to find housing and when new residential areas are on the way to becoming affluent quarters,” housing minister Kaare Dybvad Bek said, presenting the plan on Tuesday.

“We are therefore putting ourselves at the forefront of building more subsidised homes to ensure mixed cities,” the minister added.

READ ALSO: How the cost of renting an apartment in Copenhagen compares to other cities in Denmark

The proposal does not give clear detail on the viability of constructing new homes in Christiania, but says the government will “investigate” and “work targetedly towards” building subsidised housing in the area.

Neither is any figure given for how many of the 22,000 homes will be placed in Christiania.

The government proposes that municipalities be given the power to demand that up to 33 percent of housing in new developments are allocated to subsidised housing.

This will “need a change to the law and it will need money,” Dybvad said.

Ten billion kroner from Nybyggerifonden, foundation into which residents in newly-built subsidised housing have paid as part of their rent since 1999, will be used to build the 22,000 new homes by 2035, according to the plan.

The foundation, which currently has around one billion kroner, will be used to finance a new foundation for economically divers cities and will receive five billion kroner up to 2031, according to the plan outlined Tuesday.

A spokesperson for Christiania residents said in response to Tuesday’s announcement that they would wait until more detail of the proposal emerges before taking any stance on it.

“We don’t know anything about the proposal, so we’ll have to address it when (detail) comes,” Hulda Mader from Christiania’s press group said.

READ ALSO: Denmark’s ‘freetown’ Christiania hangs onto soul, 50 years on


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