Inclusion, Diversity and Social Cohesion
People of different ages, from different cultures and with a variety of social backgrounds are at home in our neighborhoods. In the reporting year, Vonovia once more gained new tenants from more than 140 different nations.
We promote social and environmental measures to boost the sense of community in our neighborhoods, increase diversity and create a lively residential environment. We cooperate with social institutions, cities and municipalities, and other residential real estate companies as needed for this purpose. The aim of our support activities is to provide our residents with a vibrant and diverse living environment in our neighborhoods.
Our Group guidelines for donations and sponsoring define the framework within which we enter into cooperative partnerships in response to people’s local needs and take the individual living environments in our neighborhoods into consideration. Our desire to create social added value for our customers locally in the neighborhoods and for society in general is reflected in the broad range of support measures and programs (see Vonovia in Society (in German)). This spectrum reflects both the diversity of society and the diversity in our neighborhoods and includes:
- Establishing neighborhood meetings and day-care centers
- Cooperating with social institutions/sponsors and municipal neighborhood managers
- Providing premises and services in kind for social and cultural initiatives
- Promoting cultural diversity by supporting small art projects
- Helping those in need, e. g., by supporting food banks
- The personal commitment of our employees and trainees, e. g., in clean-up and gardening drives or one or several days of volunteering their help or work
Making neighborhoods more ecologically sustainable and livable and promoting social cohesion are tasks that are related directly to our core business and the associated social responsibilities that we have as a residential real estate company. We fulfill these responsibilities first and foremost – but not exclusively – through our financial commitment to centrally managed, overarching and decentralized support measures. At the overall company level, we maintain strategic and long-term cooperations with civil organizations in order to achieve common goals with pooled resources and skills and positive results for our tenants and wider urban society in general.
Through our nationwide cooperation with Naturschutzbund Deutschland e. V. (NABU) and the non-profit organization Acker e. V. we contribute to the preservation of biodiversity in the residential environment in a number of neighborhoods and knowledge transfer regarding environmental and biodiversity protection as well as organic farming (see Protecting Biodiversity).
Our social commitment is complemented at regional and local level by our decentralized support management system, which provides all regional managers with an individually usable support instrument in the form of a fixed budget for strengthening the local community. Targeted support through individual donations is intended to address neighborhood-specific resident needs and meaningful local projects and initiatives that benefit the neighborhood or a specific target group and often contribute to proven assistance approaches being maintained in the neighborhoods over the long term. Simultaneously, we perform a central quality check for the projects and initiatives in order to ensure that the measures and projects that we finance have the greatest effect for our tenants and the (target) groups and stakeholders involved in our neighborhoods.
Vonovia’s commitment is supplemented by our foundation work, primarily within the framework of the Vonovia social foundation, Vonovia Mieterstiftung e. V. and “Stiftung Mensch und Wohnen.” With their help, we implement measures that benefit everyone who lives in our neighborhoods (not just our tenants). Here, too, the focus is on living together in the neighborhoods and supporting children, young people and the elderly. We continue to support tenants facing social hardship. In the reporting year, our foundations’ funding volume was approx. € 200,000.
Vonovia Award for Photography
With the “VONOVIA AWARD FOR PHOTOGRAPHY,” held since 2017, we also want to make an overarching contribution to promoting art and photography. Six to twelve photo series, each outstanding in terms of form and content, that interpret, depict and personally bring to life the theme of “home” will be rewarded in the competition. The prize money amounts to € 42,000 and the competition is open to both professional and amateur photographers. Last September, the award-winning works were presented at the Sprengel Museum in Hanover as part of the ZUHAUSE No. 6. exhibition. The war in Ukraine was the main photographic focal point of the 2022 Award, which was also reflected in the award-winning work of Philip Cheung (1st place – best photo series). This documented the war and highlighted the destruction and loss of people’s homes, but also the resilience of individuals, families, and entire communities.
One particular focus of our Group-wide commitment in the current reporting year was making help available locally, quickly and in a straightforward manner for refugees from Ukraine. By implementing spontaneous aid initiatives – such as those organized together with AWO in Bochum – Vonovia and Deutsche Wohnen were able to help at the German towns of arrival with volunteers from the workforce: A number of aid initiatives were organized decentrally and Group-wide throughout Germany, such as collecting and packaging aid items destined for Ukraine and donation drives, volunteer work and charity events. The Deutsche Wohnen workforce partnered up with “Die ARCHE” children’s foundation in Berlin, among others (see Direct and Rapid Help on Arrival in Germany).
We also implement specific measures to ensure that children and families feel safe, particularly in neighborhoods that are high-risk. Victoriahem, for example, organized a project in a particularly crime-ridden neighborhood in the Eskilstuna district during the reporting period, in which employees from the company accompany children on their way home from school once a week, provide meals for them and speak to them to establish contact with them in order to build trust. The idea is that they prevent older young people in particular from getting involved in crime. The increased presence in the area has raised the sense of safety in the neighborhood lastingly and also reduced costs related to vandalism. Our Swedish subsidiary is also particularly committed to equal opportunities, and connected more than 700 young people with temporary jobs in the neighborhoods as part of a summer job project (see Recruiting New Talent: 700 Summer Jobs in Sweden).
A central element of our support strategy that is based directly on our core skills as a letting company and contributes to our social sustainability targets is the subsidized or rent-free provision of space. This involves providing subsidized homes to particularly vulnerable groups such as refugees, the homeless (e. g., through our housing first approach), the elderly or low-income households (e. g., by providing supported homes and through social agreements with communities) (see Living at Fair Prices and Homes That Meet People’s Needs and Demographic Change).
In Katernberg, Essen, and Westerfilde, Dortmund, we were the first to provide rent-free homes for dedicated young people as part of an innovative exchange approach in cooperation with the “Tausche Bildung für Wohnen” initiative (in German), national winner of the 2018 German Neighborhood Awards. In return, they design and organize extracurricular learning and leisure time activities for children in the neighborhood. We therefore support this initiative at two of their five project locations. A similar concept is also being used in the Bremen district of Wohlers Eichen. We support the local sports club with homes for young people that are doing their voluntary social year at the club. In return, they offer sporting and leisure activities for local residents while they live with us rent-free.
In addition to providing homes, we offer vacant commercial space to initiatives and organizations that focus on the greater good in order to create more opportunities for low-threshold commitment and contact. This is how an inclusive location for integration, co-working and networking was created in Bremen together with Afrika-Netzwerk Bremen e. V. in a temporary lease of vacant commercial space in 2021.
With our concept “freiRaum,” we want to unleash the potential of vacant spaces and create vibrant and low-threshold inclusive locations in our neighborhoods for initiatives and groups by redesigning and developing socially innovative use concepts that focus on public interests. These spaces are fully furnished and have immediately usable equipment available as well as myriad use types, which can also be designed by residents themselves. From collection drives for the homeless, crafting afternoons and homework help for school kids to integration help, cooking groups and seniors’ meetups, Vonovia’s “freiRaum” projects offer the opportunity to for all target groups to get involved in social events. The communal neighborhood center in the Striesen district of Dresden is the first of our “freiRaum” projects. For this project, the commercial space of a former electrical store was converted and redesigned specifically for the neighborhood. The project implemented here is designed to serve as a blueprint for the establishment of more central meeting spaces in various Vonovia neighborhoods (see freiRaum – A Space for Ideas, Getting Involved and Urban Society).
Dedicated to Social Cohesion and Integration
Vonovia’s social commitment is primarily focused on promoting social cohesion and integrating the various needs of different groups in society. We continued to support the nationwide hotline Silbernetz e. V., which aims to alleviate loneliness among the elderly. We actively inform our tenants about the offer, and we provide the association with rooms for training courses and support the association’s infrastructure with an annual donation.