In the UK we managed for a generation to have council housing available to those who needed it.
Like many cities around the world, rents in the German capital of Berlin have soared in recent years, doubling in the last decade alone.
But unlike many other cities, the people of Berlin are actually doing something about it.
Campaigners want the government to take apartments from real estate firms that own more than 3,000 apartments, place them into public ownership, and rent them out at more affordable rates.
The estimated market value of the real estate in question is up to €36 billion ($44 billion), CityMonitor reported
, but the group has suggested compensation of as little as €8 billion ($10 billion), arguing that the prices are based on speculation and overpriced rental yields rather than real value.
In a city where around 85% of residents live in rented accommodation, and where more than 200,000 publicly owned apartments have been sold off since 1990 to private equity firms and hedge funds, the issue has taken on acute significance.
A petition started in February for a referendum on the plan has already collected 130,000 signatures, meaning there is a very real possibility that Berlin authorities will be forced to hold a referendum on the subject in September.
The group wants to collect 240,000 signatures by the end of June, which would be enough to force a referendum on the subject. There is also a strong chance that the referendum could pass, forcing lawmakers to consider the plan: A poll carried out in April indicated that 47% of Berlin residents supported the proposal, with 43% opposed and 9% undecided. [Obviously the article is a little old, but they were talking about it on the telly today so I guess it is moving forward]