Economic and population growth have increased demand for housing in Switzerland. The period leading up to 2015 saw a fall in the number of available homes in urban areas in Switzerland. Rental prices continued to rise beyond 2015 into 2016.
The initiative aims to impose a rule requiring 10% of new homes to be controlled by the government so that they can be offered as social housing. In addition, it would stop subsidies for environmental upgrades where the upgrades result in rent hikes.
The initiators argue social housing quotas are the only effective means of ensuring there is enough social housing to meet demand.
The government says that it already supports social housing via government funding. Since 2003, these funds have allowed the construction and renovation of 1,500 moderately priced rental homes annually, it said.
Some point to unintended negative consequences, such as the disincentive it will create to build new homes and the negative impact it could have on Swiss pension funds, which have invested heavily in local real estate.
The Federal Council, parliament and Council of States all reject the initiative. 140 members of the National Council, Switzerland’s parliament, are against it and 56 are in favour of it. There were zero abstentions. 30 members of the Council of States are against it, 13 for it, with 1 abstention.
If the initiative is rejected by voters the government will lend a further CHF 250 million to the fund that finances social housing. It predicts this measure will keep social housing at around 4% of the total.