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Social City Programme, Neighborhood Management

Why Neighborhood Management?

A study on the social development within the districts of Berlin after the reunification of the city compiled on behalf of the Berlin Senate in 1996 revealed social segregation and serious social issues prevailing particularly in certain areas of Berlin.

These socially disadvantaged areas were found to be affected by a demonstrable neglect of public areas, roads, squares and green spaces, as well as social infrastructural deficits. Families who could afford to relocate from these areas did so, at the latest by the time of their children's primary school enrollment. In response to this situation, the Berlin Senate introduced intervention strategy to support social urban development in the affected neighborhoods. The Berlin Neighborhood Management is at the heart of this strategy.

Which areas are under Neighborhood Management?

Since 1999, the "Social City Programme" has worked towards the stabilization and development of areas facing social discrimination. Unemployment, dependence on state aid and the issues arising from a lack of social and ethnical integration affect the everyday life and the future prospects of the people living in those areas.

Based on socio-demographic indicators, the neighborhoods were initally classified as either prevention areas or areas for medium to large-scale intervention and are now provided with technical and financial support at different levels.

The classification is reviewed on a regular basis within the scope of a special dedicated monitoring system and adapted as necessary.

Neighborhood Management - How does it work?

An essential prerequisite for stable communities is to create ownership in the community by involving its members into the improvement and development process on an ongoing basis. The establishment of "Neighborhood Councils" and their constructive involvement in the overall Neighborhood Management on the one hand and in the decision-making process related to the the use of program funds on the other hand is therefore of vital importance.

The knowledge of the people living in the neighborhoods is pivotal for the development of a sustainable stabilization and improvement strategy. Close cooperation between the residents, the administration and the facilities in the neighborhoods lays the groundwork for a new community life in a spirit of solidarity.

The change process resulting in social urban development takes place on various levels. Our experience has shown that sustainable change can primarily be achieved through improving educational opportunities and facilitating the process of integration among the various nations living in the neighborhoods.

Since 2005, the program has particularly concentrated on improving the future prospects of the people living in disadvantaged areas; accordingly integration, education and employment became the main areas of focus. Flanking construction measures are expected to have a positive impact on stability in the areas as well. Main objectives include health promotion, image enhancement mobilization and participation of residents, and more involvement of local businesses.

The components of successful Neighborhood Management:
  • teams as main actors in the area;
  • interdisciplinary networking of administrative bodies;
  • integrated strategic and activity plan;
  • empowerment, "helping people to help them selves" - Neighborhood Councils;
  • Neighborhood and Residents' Funds;
  • A multitude of small projects within the different focus areas;
  • civic commitment to work towards socially integrative neighborhoods.

Neighborhood Management as a network

A vital role is played by our strong partners, the housing societies, neighborhood centers, schools, local businesses and tradespeople represented in the areas. Our co-operation with them in our efforts to improve the living conditions in the neighborhoods have resulted in valuable synergy effects in many instances.

Supporting schools to become "special places" in the area, refurbishment of public roads, squares and open spaces and the promotion of the neighborhood culture are also important factors to improve the quality of neighborhood life.

The "Social City Programme" that strives to be a responsive, "learning" program, has not only mobilized the residents of the participating neighborhoods but also the competent administrative bodies. Co-operations across administrative divisions and mutual respect have become natural. A particular plus worth highlighting here is the huge commitment of the many volunteers from the active neighborhood communities. The communication within the "Kiez" (1) , face-to-face or via the internet, has created or strengthened neighborhood networks. Social urban development has become a new form of interdisciplinary urban management based on using and pooling local resources. After a first decade of the "Socially Integrative City", the overall impression is very good. The successfull approach of the Neighborhood Management in Berlin will therefore be followed up in the future.

Berlin's Neighborhood Management: applied cohesion policy

Strengthening social cohesiveness, promoting social and ethnical integration, implementing integrated urban development programs in a participatory and interdisciplinary way - the following pages give an insight into the multitude of activities implemented under the "Social City Programme".

A "Kiez" is a smaller district or area within a city. It is defined by the residents rather than the administration and as such does not necessarily coincide with administrative divisions. Nevertheless, it is often used as a synonym for "district" or "neighborhood".

Data of NM areas

  • Area: 2,210 ha
  • Population: 423,000 residents

Congress of the Neighborhood Councils 2009
Congress of the Neighborhood Councils 2009

Residents' Conference
Residents' Conference

Intercultural women's breakfast
Intercultural women's breakfast

Soziale Stadt - Logos
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