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Press Releases - County Council

Councilmember Hans Riemer to Host Community Conversation on Vienna, Austria Social Housing Model on September 14

For Immediate Release: Wednesday, August 28, 2019

From the Office of Councilmember Hans Riemer

ROCKVILLE, Md., Aug. 28, 2019—Councilmember Hans Riemer and Sierra Club of Montgomery County will host a community conversation entitled “Vienna, Austria’s Smart City Strategies for Housing, Energy and Mobility” on Saturday, Sept. 14, from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. on the third floor of the Stella B. Werner Council Office Building (100 Maryland Ave.) in Rockville. The event will focus on learning lessons from Vienna’s model of social housing.

Vienna is internationally recognized to be at the forefront of progressive housing policy, sustainability and architecture. Close to 60 percent of Vienna’s 1.8 million residents live in government-subsidized housing that is rented to them by the municipality or nonprofit housing associations. The city administration and the Austrian government invest heavily in new housing construction and renovation every year and provides direct financial support for residents with low-incomes. A unique characteristic of Vienna’s social housing system is its goal to serve both people with low incomes and “a broad middle class.”

“I look forward to learning more about how Vienna’s social housing policies help keep rents affordable, while also making the city greener and easier to get around,” said Councilmember Riemer, who chairs the Council’s Planning, Housing and Economic Development Committee. “I hope this discussion will clarify policy issues and provide lessons that we can act on right here in Montgomery County.”

Councilmember Riemer will be joined by visiting officials from Vienna and housing experts from the County, including:

  • Kurt Sturzenbecher, member of the Vienna City Council;
  • Karin Ramser, director of the Vienna Housing Agency;
  • Katharina Bayer, architect;
  • Josef Cser, director of Wohnservice Wien (the umbrella organization for City of Vienna Housing); and
  • Shruti Bhatnagar, chair of Sierra Club Montgomery County, Md.
  • Casey Anderson, chair of the Montgomery County Planning Board
  • Stacy Spann, executive director of the Housing Opportunities Commission

“To help ease our affordable housing crisis, we must look far and wide for new ideas and I look forward to a discussion about new ideas and potential solutions with representatives from Vienna,” said Casey Anderson, chair of the Montgomery County Planning Board.

The community conversation in Rockville will take place the day after an exhibit entitled “The Municipality is Building: Vienna Residential Construction 1920 to 2020” opens at the University of Maryland School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation’s Kibel Gallery. The school will host a symposium, “The Vienna Model: Social Housing for the 21st Century,” on Friday, Sept. 13 from 1 to 6 p.m. featuring discussions among international experts from Vienna and local representatives of the university, students, nonprofit organizations, architects, policy advocates and political leaders from both Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties. Topics include: “Why is Social Housing Critical Today?,” “Past and Present: Social Housing in Vienna and the U.S.,” “The Intersection of Financing, Policy and Planning: Lessons from Vienna,” and “Design: Case Studies in Social Housing and Urban Design.”

The exhibition will run until October 20.

To learn more about the exhibit and symposium, visit: or call 301-405-8000.

To RSVP to the community conversation, visit:

# # # Release ID: 19-282
Media Contact: Tommy Heyboer 240-777-7948