|Name||“Social City” Initiative|
|Year of beginning||1999|
|People involved||34 ongoing assisted areas in 8 boroughs and 5 action areas; 4 consolidation areas (1 consolidation area since 2015, 3 further areas by the end of 2016); Population involved ca. 465,500 residents.|
|Who started the initiative (NGO, public administration, association)||Public Administration, City Government|
|Object||The Social City Initiative was born as a national project in order to support and provide help to communities in disadvantaged neighborhoods. The Initiative has been implemented in Berlin through the Neighbourhood Management (NM) program. The strategy that lies at the heart of the NM program is one of participatory decision-making used as a tool for community empowerment and socio-economic advancement. Involving residents in the decisions regarding their neighborhoods, the project set up “Neighborhood Councils”, which serve as an organizational framework to allow for discussion and consultation to happen among citizens. Thus, the idea the program wants to promote is that local citizens are the “experts” to be consulted first in decision-making processes, the ones that know best what are the issues to be solved.
The program indeed wants to focus on communities’ social capital, giving them a voice in their neighborhood’s future, and a platform to exercise this voice together with their neighbors, in turn creating an opportunity for people to build a network. Thanks to this focus on community building and empowerment, the program approaches socio-economic issues in an innovative way, proving that a strong local community is key for economic advancement.
The Councils therefore tackle problems of segregation and discrimination, lack of educational and working opportunities, service inadequacies, housing support, and revaluation of urban areas.
The funding comes from different sources: namely, from 1999 to 2015, the national government, the European Union and Land Berlin have allocated a total of 364 million euros that have been spent in the neighborhood management areas.