The rally on Saturday, backed by local residents’ associations and the tenants’ support group Asloca, marched through downtown streets brandishing banners and signs.
Demonstrators chanted for housing as a “right for all”, among other slogans.
“We could have been more numerous given the catastrophic housing situation in Geneva,” said Jean-Pierre Fioux, chairman of the residents’ association for the Jonction neighbourhood, admitted to 20 Minutes newspaper.
The rally was held a week before cantonal and municipal elections next weekend.
The goal of the demonstration was “to put pressure on the candidates and the authorities to put in place a public housing policy,” said Christian Dandrès, lawyer for Asloca, the Swiss tenants’ association.
“Average or low wage-earners no longer have the opportunity to find accommodation,” Dandrès told 20 Minutes.
The groups decried a vacancy rate that has hovered between 0.2 and 0.3 percent for the past decade, while a rate of at least two percent is regarded as healthy for a balanced supply and demand, the newspaper said.
Those participating carried signs calling for an end to “organized penury”, “abusive rents” and property speculation which demonstrators said serves the interests of property developers while hurting the needs of ordinary residents.
The housing groups noted that 83 percent of residents in the canton of Geneva rent their homes, while only 17 percent own them.
Meanwhile, the vast majority of homeowners — 11 percent of the population — live in villas that occupy 50 percent of the land earmarked for construction, the groups said.