The high concentration of social problems in some neighbourhoods can contribute to a gradual loss of basic standards of living together. These neighbourhoods need a special support system to ensure that both the neighbourhood and the people living there have equal chances for development. The government of Berlin has implemented the Neighbourhood Management program to mitigate the development of 'pockets of poverty' that show a marked tendency to develop into social segregation over time.

The Neighbourhood Management program is part of the national initiative “Neighbourhoods with Special Development Needs – Social City“. The program aims to support the most disadvantaged neighbourhoods, which are hit the hardest by unfavourable social and economic developments. A key aspect of this is preventing a ‘downward spiral’ in these neighbourhoods, which would further hinder prospects for residents. The program also seeks to counteract discrimination against population groups and/or social segregation in a timely manner.

The Social City program is about more than just renovation - it is rather about 'living space': empowering communities and promoting integration, education and employment. The underlying idea of the Social City program is that the neighbourhoods themselves become the main actors in their own development, to improve the living conditions for residents. As such, supporting resident and stakeholder initiatives is essential to create ownership of this kind of positive self-development.

The program pursues various objectives for the neighbourhoods involved. These include:

  • creating the prospect of sustainable development for these neighbourhoods
  • strengthening self-reliance and commitment among residents and stakeholders
  • recognition and exploitation of local resources and potential 
  • pooling of resources by strengthening networking among different stakeholders
  • encouragement of interdisciplinary dialogue and activity

There is a clear focus on motivating people and conducting participatory activities, complemented by awareness-raising and mobilization activities at the neighbourhood level to encourage social stability within these neighbourhoods.