The Fuggerei claims to be the world’s oldest social housing area. It was founded in 1521 by the wealthy Augsburg merchant Jakob Fugger (1459-1525) to provide housing for industrious Catholic residents of Augsburg who had become impoverished through no fault of their own. The complex consists of 67 buildings with 147 apartments, a church and a well.
The yearly rent was (and still is) less than one Euro in today’s money (€ 0.88, to be more exact) but the tenants were also obliged (and theoretically still are) to recite three prayers each day for Fugger and his family.
The master mason Franz Mozart, great-grandfather of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, lived in the Fuggerei from 1681 to 1694. He wasn’t there because of poverty, though, but because he had a job there as head mason of the housing area.
You can walk through the Fuggerei just about any time, at least during the day, and there is also a museum at Mittlere Gasse 13 where you can see an apartment with its original furnishings.
My photos in this post are from 2004. I revised the text in 2020.