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Homelessness on the rise in Germany: study

July 30, 2019

The current system makes it almost impossible to escape the "rigid poverty" endemic in Germany, a new report warns. It also called on the German government to build over 150,000 new properties a year, to avert a crisis.

People walk past a homeless person in the Frankfurter Allee in Berlin, Germany on January 19, 2018
Image: picture alliance/NurPhoto/E. Contini

Around 650,000 people in Germany are without a permanent home, according to figures released by the Federal Association for Assistance to Homeless People (BAGW) on Tuesday.

BAGW's CEO Werena Rosenke warned in the report of a "rigid poverty," which people struggled to get out of.

Key data from the report

The figures are based on estimates from 2017 and revealed that:

  • Most homeless people live in emergency shelters, but around 48,000 people live on the streets.
  • Migrants from EU nations in eastern Europe account for most rough sleepers.
  • Three in four of the homeless across Germany are men, who are mostly single.
  • Some 22,000 children are homeless in Germany.
  • Around 375,000 asylum seekers and refugees in temporary accommodation are included in the total number.

Growing problem

The previous estimate was of around 860,000 homeless people. However, this year's report specified that the new, lower figure was not an indication of less people being homeless in Germany, more it was an improvement in their method instead. The number of homeless in Germany is more likely to have increased by 15 to 20%, the service said. Rosenke said there was "no reason to stop pushing for change." 22,000 children are among the homeless in Germany.

"Without homes for the homeless and without a well thought-through system of prevention in every community, we will not be able to tackle homelessness and the housing shortage," Rosenke added.

Why the increase?

Not enough houses are being built, the BAGW argued, saying in the report that: "We need between 80,000 and 100,000 new council flats every year, and another 100,000 new affordable apartments." Germany is short of around two million houses, the report added.

Cities including Berlin, Frankfurt and Heidelberg suffer from a severe lack of housing, the German Economic Institute said earlier in July. Meanwhile many rural houses stand empty.

Demonstrators marched through Berlin in April 2019 to protest skyrocketing rent increases — rents have doubled over the last decade in cities like Berlin. Protesters demanded the government take control of thousands of apartments from large property companies such as Deutsche Wohnen and Vonovia.

The debate on homelessness in Germany reached a fever pitch in the winter of 2018, when nine homeless people died due to the cold

jns/rt (kna, dpa)

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