Project "WohL – Worthy places from un-used spaces! ["WohL – Wohnungsleerstand wandeln!"] started at the Chair of Sociology of Diversity

The project “WohL - Convert vacant housing!” is intended to facilitate a good living together in the community of the future

Prof. Dr. Elisabeth Wacker, Head of the Chair of Sociology of Diversity

Living space is a scarce commodity in Bavaria. Anyone looking for an apartment in cities like Munich will need a lot of patience and more often than not, even more money. Similar problems exist in the area around Munich. This is why the Chair of Sociology of Diversity, headed by Prof. Dr. Elisabeth Wacker, and the district of Dachau have launched the project "WohL – Worthy places from un-used spaces!". The housing situation in the district will be examined over a period of three years and research carried out into why, according to the State Statistical Office, about 1,800 houses and apartments are currently left unoccupied. The Bavarian Ministry of the Interior, for Building and Transport (StMB) is supporting the project with 135,000 Euros, the district of Dachau is providing a further 115,000 Euros.

From 1987 to 2016, the district has grown by around 47,000 people, or about 46 percent. It now has a population of more than 150,000. Presumably, this dynamic population development will also continue in the coming years. Therefore, the aim of the project is to provide a contribution to sustainable solutions ensuring quality housing for the district's current and future population. Furthermore, tailor-made housing arrangements are to be developed in communities in the greater Munich area and in the Free State of Bavaria. “Communities in Bavaria are thinking a lot about whether they should develop new land or use existing housing. This is where the issue of sustainability plays a significant role,” says Prof. Wacker, describing the starting conditions.

The study is designed to determine the motives for the housing vacancies and ultimately to identify effective methods to activate living spaces. The research group aims to find out why, in addition to apartments in need of renovation which are usually only temporarily vacant, a considerable proportion of apartments are not let or used on a long-term basis. “We are interested in analysing what causes people who have square meters at their disposal to not make use of them,” explains Prof. Wacker.

The Delphi method will be used for the project. This involves a multi-stage qualitative survey procedure. The aim is to bring together expertise from several specialists to develop a prognosis for the future. The first step for the “WohL” project is to gather the opinions of experts such as local mayors or community pastors in writing. These opinions will be subsequently analysed and sorted. Finally, all of the opinions will be returned to the experts after which they will be given the opportunity to comment on them.

Once the surveys have been carried out, the 360-degree study will focus on contact with citizens. These persons are to be informed at citizens' meetings or special events. Furthermore, appeals are to be made via municipalities which would like to write to potential contact persons directly. Trained interviewers will then carry out discussions with participants about the various motives. “It is especially important to us that this project is participatory and that everyone involved can learn from one another,” emphasises Prof. Wacker.

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Prof. Dr. Elisabeth Wacker
Chair of Sociology of Diversity
Georg-Brauchle-Ring 60/62
80992 München

phone: 089 289 24460
e-mail: Elisabeth.Wacker(at)

Text: Romy Schwaiger
Photos: Pixabay/Chair of Sociology of Diversity