In 2012/2013 the City of Poznań (PL) and its company Poznań Social Housing Association (PTBS) decided to create an affordable housing programme, “Apartments for Graduates”, to meet the needs of university graduates and retain young talent in the city. The combination of affordable pricing and good conditions resulted in a very high - and continuing - demand for flats in the programme.
Tenants are chosen on the basis of several selection criteria: they should be university graduates who graduated within the last five years, they must not be more than 36 years old, and should not own any other apartment in Poznań. They must work in or run a business in Poznań and pay taxes there. There is also an upper and a lower income limit. Each person can rent a flat for up to 10 years.
In the first wave of recruitment there were 250 applicants, and later about 130.
The programme functions on the basis of a rental housing model and tenants have to cover the costs: repayable participation in the apartment development costs, rent and a reimbursable deposit.
For qualified applicants (recent university graduates no older than 36 and within the income limits, who do not own other property in Poznań but work and pay taxes in the city), the programme combines affordable pricing and very good conditions. The residential estate, which is aimed at university graduates, includes 4 residential buildings with 143 apartments, including 77 one-room and 66 two-room flats. In the area there are also two underground garage areas.
Apartments for Graduates is part of a sustainable housing system encompassing many social groups, i.e. the elderly, youth, the poor… Owing to the well-thought-out system, the solutions offered for each of the groups are best suited for their needs. However, creating housing especially for one group does not create social exclusion. For example, in the housing estate for the elderly there is also a kindergarten for mentally disabled children.
The area of the housing estate for young people is located close to the green areas. It is well served by public transport and by bicycle lanes, which encourages them to use more sustainable forms of transport. The programme aims to create good housing conditions for young people, but it contributes to the overall development of the city as it boosts its economic and social development by providing new employees and creating a lively neighbourhood.
The work preparation for the investment on Palacza Street began in 2011. The city considered the possibility of the developer system: renting (without the right to buy), renting with the buyout right or selling the ground and using the money obtained to finance investment in another locality.
At the turn of 2012 and 2013 a decision was made to use the area on Placza Street in Poznań for rental housing. In 2012 the Department of Investment and Real Estate of the Poznań University of Economics and Business published a monograph concerning the issue of housing needs of clients on the local real estate market and how those needs are addressed (exemplified by the situation of Poznań). The monograph was a result of the research carried out on this subject.
In 2013 Propertus – a student research club – invited representatives of PTBS to a conference where students presented results of their own research on the current housing situation for young people and their housing preferences. Also the City of Poznań ran a survey among the potential beneficiaries – employees of Poznań City Hall and its institutions. The research and information gained from young people who contacted PTBS provided a basis for the rules of the Apartments for Graduates programme.
The programme makes it possible to increase the quality of life of young people and help them to become more independent. It enables them to settle in Poznań, which stops the negative migration trend. The lease period of 10 years helps young people to become financially independent because they get help at the beginning of their careers. This stability is helpful in setting up a family.
The rent is appropriate for the financial situation of young people and the surface area and location of the apartments suit their needs. The location of Palacza Street is very convenient, within walking distance (5 minutes) of public transportation (bus and tram stops). The city centre can be reached in 10 minutes by car or in 15 minutes by tram. The area is located next to the city park. The city forest Lasek Marceliński can be reached by a bike lane.
In the neighbourhood there is also an astronomy dome where citizens can take part in lectures and sky watching. The infrastructure of the neighbourhood is also very good. There is a school and a kindergarten and numerous shops and services. Owing to the above-mentioned reasons the area is exceptional: full of light and greenery and at the same time close to the city centre and its well-developed infrastructure.
Many cities in Eastern and Western Europe have already shown interest in the programme. They have asked about the details of the programme: its assumptions, finances, rules and eligibility. The partners from the Gen-Y City network were particularly interested in the project because the aim of the network is to retain young people in the City and determine what should be done to make the city more attractive for them. The findings of many cities were that affordable housing is something that attracts young people.
The Apartments for Graduates programme is so appealing because it focuses solely on young people. It suits their needs and creates a community of people with similar life situations and attitudes. Moreover, the target group is university graduates, people with a good educational background who are potential employees for local companies. There is also a trend of young people emigrating to smaller towns or cities. They can travel and simultaneously work off-site.
The programme can be a good way of development for medium-sized cities which face the negative migration trend. The programme is an example of a project that many people can benefit from and it can be applied to many different cities because its extent can be adapted to the city’s size, number of students and financial situation.