Feeling that a neighbour is making too much noise, that there’s no space for you in public areas, or that neighbourhood rules are not respected… when we live in a community, there is plenty of potential for tensions to rise. Wohnpartner – Together for a Good Neighbourhood – was set up in 2010 as part of Wohnservice Wien, a subsidiary of the City of Vienna. Since then, the service partner has been carrying out important community work and professional conflict management to build social cohesion in Vienna’s public housing.
How does the service operate?
Wohnpartner is a dedicated service made up of around 150 social workers, mediators, and coaches who support residents with everyday issues and neighbourhood conflicts. The service offers professional and, when needed, multilingual advice for tenants. There is a headquarters and 20 district offices with nine local teams. In addition, Wohnpartner runs six Residents‘ Centres. All the services provided by Wohnpartner are free.
Conflict management and building social cohesion in housing
The service is on hand to resolve problems that arise within the community, but it also takes a long-term approach. Wohnpartner transfers important conflict management skills to tenants. It also aims to create spaces for participation and positive interaction.
When a conflict arises, Wohnpartner brings together all those involved to engage with each other and identify the underlying issues. Through this approach, tenants have the opportunity to develop skills to resolve conflicts by themselves, strengthening social cohesion.
When we are facing other stresses in our professional, educational, or family life, it can make it even more difficult to deal with tensions in our neighbourhood. In consulting and coaching sessions, Wohnpartner helps people to understand the different perspectives of a conflict and to learn how to communicate their needs while respecting the needs of others.
Working with young people
In addition, Wohnpartner collaborates with local schools to provide conflict management training to young people. The peer mediation programmes are available for schools located in public residential buildings or which have a large proportion of students from surrounding public buildings.
The programme feeds into Wiener Wohnen’s long-term strategy for social cohesion, ensuring that future generations are well equipped to communicate and manage neighbourhood issues.