Wohnfonds Wien – a land bank for the public good

Vienna, Austria Land policy, Public land banking


The Vienna Land Procurement and Urban Renewal Fund (in German: Wiener Bodenbereitstellungs- und Stadterneuerungsfonds), known as Wohnfonds Wien, was founded in 1984 by the city-government. It is a not-for-profit, financially independent corporation, governed by a trust chaired by the city council and regulated under the Fund Act.

It has taken only a few decades for Wohnfonds Wien to become a powerful public-interest player in the land market of Vienna, thereby ensuring the ongoing production and management of affordable housing for many of the city’s residents.

Actors involved

  • Wohnfinds Wien

Why it works

Wohnfonds Wien purchases and releases land on the open market for development in accordance with the objectives of the strategic metropolitan plan of Vienna. This regularly updated plan aims to ensure the fulfilment of evolving housing and infrastructure needs of the city, such as decent affordable housing for key workers. Access to Wohnfonds Wien’s land bank is open to all types of building firms, both not-for-profit and for-profit, that participate in unique open competitions.

Wohnfonds Wien now operates an active, highly successful public-interest land bank. By 2018, it had accumulated 3,256,059 m2 of land, strategically promoting affordable construction and renovation across the city.

Wohnfonds Wien steers development outcomes via two key instruments: conditional housing development subsidies and a competitive design process involving citizen juries. It also organizes developer competitions for large land developments (of over 500 housing units), regardless if they have received public subsidies, to ensure they fulfil strategic planning objectives.

In most cases, affordable homes are partly subsidized via low-interest public loans. These favourable loans are provided on the condition that the housing produced is rented below a certain rent ceiling. To ensure that lower financing costs leads to reduced rents, recipients must operate according to cost rental housing principles. These principles are clearly defined in the Limited Profit Housing Act of Austria (also outlined in the chapter on governance).