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Social: Government wants to adopt a plan against homelessness

Social: Government wants to adopt a plan against homelessness

The goal is ambitious: everyone in Germany should have access to an apartment by 2030. The Minister of Construction presents an action plan. But can this end homelessness?

They sleep on the streets, under bridges, in tents or stay with friends and relatives: hundreds of thousands of people in Germany do not have their own apartment. The federal government has promised to offer them all adequate and affordable housing by 2030.

Today the cabinet wants to approve an action plan presented by Construction Minister Klara Geywitz (SPD). “Together for a home” is the name of the paper. However, representatives of those affected are missing concrete solutions – especially when it comes to the question of how homeless people should get these apartments given the competition on the rental market.

How many people are affected

Nobody knows exactly how many people in Germany have no apartment. In its most recent estimates, the Federal Working Group for Homeless Assistance (BAG W) assumes that a total of 607,000 people were affected over the course of 2022 – some temporarily, some for months or the entire year.

The most obvious form of homelessness is homelessness – when people sleep outdoors, in subway stations, tents or condemned houses. According to estimates, around 50,000 were living on the streets without any accommodation in 2022. Even larger – but more hidden – is the proportion of people who stay with friends or relatives due to a lack of their own apartment.

According to estimates, the overall number of homeless people has recently risen significantly, especially due to refugees from Ukraine.

Why people lose their homes

The Ministry of Construction lists a whole range of causes in its action plan. One in four owed rent – for a variety of reasons such as unemployment, illness, addiction or strokes of fate. Many have lost their homes after separation, divorce or the death of loved ones. Young people would be thrown out of their parents’ home.

Quite a few – especially women – fled from partner violence. Terminations by landlords due to personal use also resulted in people literally ending up on the streets. What they all have in common is that the ground is suddenly pulled out from under their feet.

According to the federal homeless report, around 39 percent of those affected have never had their own apartment in Germany – including many refugees, but also young adults who move out of their parents’ house voluntarily or by force.

What is missing

The competition for affordable housing is particularly high in major cities – so high that homeless people have little chance of finding accommodation themselves. Emergency shelters are not a permanent solution – even if many of those affected stay here for months. Others didn’t use the help at all, according to the Ministry of Construction’s action plan. They couldn’t cope with so many people in a small space, with the lack of privacy, and experienced violence and theft. There are also too few offers for women or those seeking help with pets.

But that’s not the only problem: those who live on the streets are often in poor health. But finding a family doctor is particularly difficult for homeless people. Your insurance status is often not clear. Added to this is shame and fear of language problems. Many homeless people have trauma because violence is on their agenda.

What politicians are planning

According to the coalition agreement, the SPD, Greens and FDP want to “overcome homelessness and homelessness by 2030”. Municipalities and states are primarily responsible for the provision of housing, but the traffic light wants to ensure greater cooperation. The core goal is more affordable housing and preventing housing loss.

The federal, state and local governments should check whether they have sufficiently taken homeless people into account when supporting housing. The Ministry of Construction points out that record sums are already being invested in social housing. In addition, housing benefit has been doubled and made available to significantly more households.

There should be better advice and help with rent debts. Minimum standards for more privacy should be adhered to in emergency accommodation. All homeless people should have access to health insurance. So that homeless people can participate in public life and, for example, find apartment advertisements, free WiFi should be expanded in public places and in emergency accommodation.

How this is evaluated

Social associations and representatives of those affected initially said it was good that the federal government was tackling the problem. However, the action plan lacks more concrete solutions. In tenancy law, for example, there is no reform regarding grace period payments, explained the Federal Working Group for Homeless Assistance and the Tenants’ Association.

The question is whether a termination is still effective if rent arrears are paid or not. Federal funding for social housing was also not sufficient. Diakonie criticized: “There is a lack of concrete, effective social and housing-related measures to create living space for homeless people and to prevent loss of housing.”

Source: Stern

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