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Nearly 2,000 homeless in Berlin: census

February 7, 2020

Berlin carried out its first census of homeless people as part of an initiative to improve the German capital's policies. The number of people sleeping rough was significantly less than previous estimates.

A homeless man in Berlin
Image: DW/T. Walker

A homeless census conducted in Berlin at the end of January found that 1,976 people are homeless in the German capital, according to results presented on Friday.

A majority of those counted in the census were registered in winter aid facilities (942) and in public spaces (807). The census also counted homeless at public transit stations (154), hospital rescue centers (15) and in police custody (12).

Of the 288 homeless people who participated in a survey as part of the census, 55% of those counted were between the ages of 30 and 49, while 84% of them were male. 

Infografik - Time spent homeless in Berlin - EN

First-ever homeless census

Dubbed the "Night of Solidarity," around 2,600 volunteers were divided into teams of three and five, who scoured more than 600 different areas in Berlin to conduct the census, which took place on the night of January 29-30. The groups were tasked with finding homeless people and carrying out brief questionnaires that ask their age, nationality and how long they have been sleeping rough. 

"We now know more about the age of homeless people, their gender, where they come from and, for the first time, how long they have been homeless," said Elke Breitenbach, the Berlin's Senator for Integration, Labor and Social Affairs.

Helping Berlin's homeless

Less than expected

The figure was significantly less than previous city estimates, which placed the number of homeless people in Berlin at between 6,000 and 10,000. 

Berlin follows New York City and Paris in the cities' attempt to accurately count its homeless population. The census in the German capital is part of a city initiative to improve its homeless policy. 

Homelessness has been on the rise in Germany, according to a study published last year by Germany's BAG, a nationwide consortium that aids the homeless. Some 678,000 nationwide did not have a permanent home in 2018, with 41,000 of these living on the street, a rise of 4.2% from the previous year.

The EU allows its citizens to freely seek work anywhere inside the bloc — but many may not have access to Germany's social security program.

Infografik - Nationality of Berlin homeless -EN

dv/stb (dpa, epd)

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