Skip to content
CityLab
Housing

Zurich's Public Housing Problem: The Tenants Are Too Rich

Switzerland’s biggest city clamps down on 132 millionaires currently living in public projects.
relates to Zurich's Public Housing Problem: The Tenants Are Too Rich
Arnd Wiegmann/Reuters

Anyone who thinks public housing is only for the truly desperate should visit Zurich. In Switzerland’s largest city, housing specifically built to rent out at cost has become so popular with people of all classes that it’s actually… well, too popular.

In a city of 400,000 people, 132 millionaires (in both dollars and Swiss Francs) now live in municipal rent-controlled housing. That may speak volumes to the quality of this housing, but it also means homes built for lower-income tenants don’t always reach those who need them. That’s because, while the city has created strict laws to manage affordable rental units, it hasn’t controlled who could live in them—until now.