Offering refugees a home in Berlin

The housing market in Berlin is currently under pressure. Too few new flats are being built, social housing is no longer being earmarked for this purpose, suitable properties are becoming a scarce commodity and rents are rising continuously. Almost everyone in Berlin who is looking for a rental flat is affected by the consequences. Refugees feel them particularly keenly. They often search for housing for years, while waiting in often overcrowded accommodation.

With our project, we want to get to the bottom of the causes of the problematic housing situation for refugees in Berlin. It is important to us to take into account the complexity of the issue and to share information transparently. In the second step, we want to bring committed people and decision-makers into dialogue with each other. After all, we are convinced that no single player can solve the current challenges alone. If something is to change on the housing market in favour of refugees, then everyone needs to get involved: politicians, administrators, civil society and business.

The project is funded by the Open Society Foundation.

"Is migration seen as a disruptive, temporary crisis or as a permanent event that can be shaped positively? Only the second perspective offers the opportunity to understand and utilise migration as a win-win situation. This makes it all the more important to understand the initial situation and the needs of all those involved. The publication 'Berliner Stimmen' by Julia Kaesemann provides an excellent basis for this."

- Prof Dr Gesine Schwan

Publication: Creating results that last

To this end, we are talking to people from politics, administration, civil society and the (property) industry. Through these background discussions, around 60 interviews and site visits, we will have gathered numerous perspectives and ideas by summer 2024. They are all into a publication which we were able to publish in June 2024. In particular, we shed light on:

  • the landscape of Berlin's refugee accommodation and its challenges
  • the Berlin housing market, especially in the affordable price segment
  • Various strategies for creating more living space
  • Forms of discrimination against refugees on the Berlin housing market
  • Special risks for vulnerable people in the area of housing
  • the current difficulties of the Berlin administration in dealing with refugees
  • the contribution, but also the needs of engaged civil society

"In cities, we are still finding it difficult to cope with the dynamic nature of the refugee situation and the uncertainty and unpredictability that comes with it. There is a lack of good solutions for dealing with fluctuation and constantly changing numbers."

Dr B. Reimann, German Institute of Urban Affairs

"Conservatively estimated, we should be working towards being able to permanently accommodate up to 60,000 people in Berlin, although some projections assume even higher numbers. The structures currently lacking for this urgently need to be established."

O. Nöll, Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg City Councillor

"Since around 2018 at the latest, the housing situation in Berlin can be described as a state of emergency. Without a certificate of eligibility for housing, participation in projects or access to the few special contingents, the chances of finding affordable housing are now slim."

I. Giwer-Gaul, Gewobag AG Berlin

"You have to recognise with respect how many people Berlin takes in and accommodates. What worries us, however, is that it has only been emergency management for years. We can't get out of crisis mode and only react instead of acting."

H. Spöhr, Der Paritätische Wohlfahrtsverband e.V.

Trialogue: Stimulating conversations that work

Also in June 2024, a trialogue took place at the Brandenburg Gate, where we Representatives from all sectors together at one table. Around 70 people who are involved both strategically and operationally with the topic of accommodation in Berlin accepted our invitation - including four people who gave keynote speeches to provide an overview of the current situation in Berlin. Overview of the status quo of their work:

  • Senator Christian Gaebler, Senator for Urban Development, Building and Housing of the State of Berlin (SenCity)
  • State Secretary Aziz Buzkurt from the Senate Department for Labour, Social Affairs, Equality, Integration, Diversity and Anti-Discrimination of the State of Berlin (SenASGIVA)
  • Sandra Wehrmann, Director of the degewo AG
  • Angelika Warning, Project Manager of the WOHNBRÜCKE Berlin-Mitte 

Moderated by Prof Dr Gesine Schwan, the plenary session created a space for exchange and discussion of various solution strategies. In the afternoon, the participants also divided into three workshops in order to focus specifically on particularly challenging aspects: Supported by the Hoffnungshäuser Foundation from Baden-Württemberg, the first workshop on the topic of Lighthouse projects in accommodation and the private housing market for refugees. Workshop number two, led by ASUM gGmbH and Fair mieten - Fair wohnen, focussed on the following topic Discrimination against refugees on the housing market. And workshop number three, moderated by moveGLOBAL and interkular gGmbH, focussed on the question of how committed people can prepare themselves for the future. Excessive demands when working with refugees can protect them.

We would like to thank all the active moderators and guests who tackled these challenging topics together!

  • You are interested in our Project?
  • You have Questions or suggestions to this?
  • Or you have Ideas for a follow-up project on the topic?

Get in touch with us: Julia Kaesemann, Project Management

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