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TeleZüri Zürinews report from 06.03.2023 on the topic of housing in Zurich with Laura Galli (Co-President VSUZH)

Transcription: Stefan Rader and Arista Roduner

Pascal Meister: Space is scarce. Especially in the city of Zurich, there is hardly a free flat, especially for students it is almost impossible to find a room in a shared flat. First of all, there are already no [free flats] and if there are, they are extremely expensive. That's why more and more [students] live at home or put up with long distances. Vanessa Meier and Pascal Meister [presentation and reporting].

Meister: Samuel from Germany is one of the students who looked for a flat for more than half a year.

Samuel: I wrote about 50 applications last year. However, I only got about five replies.

Meister: Many people feel the same way. Housing in the city is really scarce. Especially when a room has to be affordable for students with low incomes. That's why it's not possible for many to live in the city.

Samuel: In the end, I had to come up with an emergency solution first. I lived in Bern for the time being and commuted here.

Person 2: I still live at home with my parents.

Meister: Why?

Person 2: Because it hasn't been possible for me to move out yet, because it wouldn't be worth it.

Person 3: It takes some time and also some vitamin B.

Meister: VSUZH is also committed to affordable flats for students. But they can't do it alone.

Laura Galli (Co-President VSUZH): We would like to see more support from the city and the canton for such shared flats and cooperatives in order to be able to offer as many rooms and flats as possible at a reasonable price.

Meister: The responsible city councillor Daniel Leupi is aware that there is a housing shortage. He takes these demands seriously.

Daniel Leupi: The city is constantly working on projects. I can mention the example "Rosengarten". I can mention the example of "Fogo" [project by SEW, AOZ and Juwo]. I can mention the example of Letzigrund. In the last two or three years, a few projects with a few hundred student flats have been built or are in the process of being built.

Meister: To be able to carry this burden, you need to work together.

Leupi: Regarding the education location of Zurich, where the canton has a university, the federal government and the ETH are also part of it. You can't just boast about great university ratings, you also have to assume social responsibility and help students find affordable housing. In my view, the federal government and the canton are clearly called upon to do this.

The canton of Zurich is at the end of rankings regarding scholarships. Students sometimes have to wait up to a year for their scholarship, which is a financial burden. The following is an excerpt of the interview by our Co-President Laura Galli.

Radio report Laura Galli (VSUZH) SRF Regionaljournal Zürich Schaffhausen, 14.02.2023

Transcription: Arista Roduner

Pascal Kaiser (SRF presentation): In this ranking, the canton of Zurich is in last place. Nowhere in Switzerland does it take longer for scholarships to be paid out, students sometimes had to wait for a year. The Zurich Department of Education has reacted and almost doubled the staff in the responsible office, but that is not enough. Now there should also be less "paperwork" when applying for scholarships. "That's a good thing," say students at the University of Zurich.

Nina Thöny (SRF journalist): Scholarship applications are piling up in the canton of Zurich. In order to reduce this mountain more quickly, the Director of Education, Silvia Steiner, has already hired considerably more staff. With the current law, however, it remains time-consuming.

Silvia Steiner (Director of Education, Canton of Zurich): We cannot change that if the law remains unchanged. The government council has given me the task of submitting a draft law that speeds up, streamlines and simplifies these processes.

Nina Thöny: It should be less burdensome for the canton to examine such a law and it should be quicker. This is well received by the student association of the University of Zurich, which has put a lot of pressure on it. Co-president Laura Galli is pleased that the Department of Education is reacting.

Laura Galli (Co-President VSUZH): This is definitely an important step in the right direction. However, we will certainly continue to monitor this issue and, if necessary, continue to exert pressure if nothing happens again.

Nina Thöny: It is urgently necessary for the canton to hurry up. A few weeks ago, the association [VSUZH] and others sent an open letter to Silvia Steiner. In it, they demanded that students wait a maximum of 50 days in future for a decision regarding their scholarship. Today, students still drop out of their education because they can no longer afford it.

Laura Galli: We really hope that something will finally happen. We have been waiting for a long time and have received feedback from students who have had trouble and have not received a decision for many months. That definitely has to change.

Nina Thöny: There is still a lot to do. In January [2023], according to the canton's current figures, a student still had to wait four months for an answer, which is almost 120 days. But the canton's target would actually be 50 days. The students' association has therefore found some common ground with Silvia Steiner.

Silvia Steiner: This is too long for me as well. This is reflected in the fact that I initiated intensive personnel measures last summer [2022]. We want to shorten the processing time. I expect that the processing time will be greatly reduced this year and that the situation will improve significantly.

Nina Thöny: Apart from the additional staff, it is now really necessary to change the law. This way, students should get the money they need more quickly.

The housing situation of students is a problem. It needs to be addressed directly, especially through WOKO (Studentische Wohngenossenschaft Zürich), which is supported by the student associations of Zurich's universities.

Through WOKO, over 4,000 rooms have already been offered below the market price (for about CHF 550), and the offer should continue to grow.

The City of Zurich and the Canton of Zurich must promote non-profit housing, e.g. via WOKO and Jugendwohnnetz JUWO. This is a proven model. This is the only way we can cope with the continuing increase in student numbers and remain attractive to foreign students.

Many thanks to the 20 Minuten editorial team: Erika Unternährer, Michelle Ineichen & Yasmina Mark.

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