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Eurofound's EU PolicyWatch collates information on the responses of government and social partners to the COVID-19 crisis, the war in Ukraine, rising inflation, as well as gathering examples of company practices aimed at mitigating the social and economic impacts.

Factsheet for measure AT-2022-1/2876 Updated – measures in Austria

"Housing umbrella" programme for securing one's home

"Wohnschirm" Programm

Country Austria , applies nationwide
Time period Temporary, 01 January 2022 – 31 December 2026
Context COVID-19
Type Legislations or other statutory regulations
Category Measures to prevent social hardship
– Keeping or obtaining a safe home
Author Bernadette Allinger (Forba) and Eurofound
Measure added 14 September 2022 (updated 07 November 2023)

Background information

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the deteriorating employment situation (e.g. job loss, short-time work), many people have found it difficult to pay their rent. Although at the beginning of the pandemic there were ways for rent burden to be alleviated (see Alleviations for tenants ), those measures have expired and people's debts have accumulated.

Content of measure

In order to protect people from being evicted from their homes, the federal government initiated the programme called "Wohnschirm" at the beginning of 2022. This programme provides consultation and financial help for rental debts and court costs that have arisen since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic (1 March 2020).

The Federal Ministry of Social Affairs initially budgeted €24 million for the project in order to secure housing and prevent evictions. However, in June 2022 the budget was increased to €60 million and the programme period was extended from the end of 2023 to the end of 2026.

The measure also provided acutely endangered tenants with counselling sessions and financial support to enable a permanent and affordable housing relationship. The housing umbrella supplements existing support services for rent debts, such as those provided by the federal states, the cities or the municipalities.

With the increase in budget, the programme was extended to address high energy bills. Energy security benefits are available to people who are affected by high energy prices due to inflation and are unable to pay for it.

In total, 28 contact points in all federal states are available.


The following updates to this measure have been made after it came into effect.

18 April 2023

Since 16 January, the "housing umbrella" also supports persons with arrears on energy costs and problems with the amount of advance payments for energy. For that purpose, the budget was increased to €134 million until the end of 2026. This step came after a publication of a representative survey by Statistics Austria which has shown that around 500,000 people in Austria cannot keep their homes adequately warm and about the same number have arrears on rent, operating costs or loan installments. Since March 2022, with the programme, more than 2,300 apartments have been secured and thus more than 5,200 people have been saved from homelessness.

Use of measure

At the end of June 2022, the project had secured 500 apartments and helped 1,125 affected people. 95% of the applications have been approved. They are often approved within a two-day window.

As of mid-February 2023 (i.e. one-year runtime), 2,464 consultations have been held. A total of 979 people have been supported, including around 350 children. In total, €650,000 was spent.

As of mid-April 2023, the housing umbrella has allowed 3,003 families to pay their rent. 7,702 people who were able to keep their existing home and 388 households were supported in moving into affordable housing. In total, more than €10.8 million has been spent.

Since January 2023 energy payments have been supported by this measure. 2,173 households with 5,532 people have received assistance with the costs of electricity or heating. In total more than €4 million have been paid to people with low incomes. The majority (1,565 households) received both a lump sum for future energy costs and support for energy cost arrears. Another 593 households received a lump sum for future energy costs, and 15 households had their energy cost arrears taken over.

By mid-April 2023 a total of about €15 million in support services had been paid and more than 5,000 applications had been approved, supporting more than 13,000 people. The number of contact points within Austria (where applications are submitted) has increased to 100.

As of mid-May 2023, more than 16,000 persons had been supported with a total amount of €18 million - €12 million by the residential umbrella which had taken over the arrears for over 3,600 households (over 8,300 people), meaning they were able to keep their apartment and 433 households were supported in moving into affordable housing. €6 million went towards the energy living umbrella - almost 2,900 households (ca. 7,800 people) received support for electricity or heating costs. The majority (2,153 households) received both support for arrears and a lump sum for future advance payments. Also, the number of so-called contact points (i.e. counselling services) was increased to 163.

Target groups

Workers Businesses Citizens
Does not apply to workers Does not apply to businesses People on low incomes

Actors and funding

Actors Funding
National government
National funds

Social partners

Social partners' role in designing the measure and form of involvement:

Trade unions Employers' organisations
Role No involvement No involvement
Form Not applicable Not applicable

Social partners' role in the implementation, monitoring and assessment phase:

  • No involvement
  • Main level of involvement: N/A


No involvement by the social partners.

Views and reactions

Trade unions consider this measure to be positive, "but in no way a substitute for the reversal of the increase in reference and category rents and also no substitute for a tenancy law reform that ensures affordable housing in the long term".

No statement from employers' organisations could be identified.



Eurofound (2022), "Housing umbrella" programme for securing one's home, measure AT-2022-1/2876 (measures in Austria), EU PolicyWatch, Dublin,


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Disclaimer: This information has not been subject to the full Eurofound evaluation, editorial and publication process.