World

Berlin Homeless Cleared Out To Make Room For Refugees

| by Diana Kruzman
BerlinBerlin

Berlin landlords may soon begin evicting homeless individuals to house asylum seekers as part of an ongoing effort to accommodate Germany’s growing refugee population, according to the German-run news service Deutsche Welle.

Germany received more than 1.1 million refugees, mainly from the Middle East and North Africa, in 2015 alone, according to Bloomberg. As a result, the country has been struggling to find housing for these individuals. One solution is to find housing that already exists rather than building new refugee shelters, which is why the Berlin Department for Health and Social Affairs (LaGeSo) began offering up to $55.81 per refugee per night to property managers who operated guesthouses and hostels.

Berlin's unemployment agency only pays $24.50 per night to property managers for every homeless person  they house, giving them an incentive to evict their homeless residents in favor of replacing them with refugees. Many of the people living in these guesthouses are struggling with alcohol or drug addiction, and some have lived there for years.

Others, however, say that they will try to accommodate as many refugees as possible while staying true to the needs of their original residents. The Gikon company, which will manage the Moabit Guest House in Berlin starting on March 1, stated that it will divide the rooms and make them smaller instead of evicting the current occupants.

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"For us it is financially impossible to put one person in one room," Gikon head Martin Kleiner told Deutsche Welle. "We offered to make large rooms into two small rooms, and would leave two floors for all the current inhabitants for the same price. We have put in writing that we will do all we can to not force out the current tenants. That is not in our interests."

According to local district councilman Stephan von Dassel, the $55 rate may not be in place for long, instead being replaced by a lower rate of $33 or $39 per refugee.

Sources: Deutsche Welle, Bloomberg / Photo Credit: Thomas Druyen/Flickr

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