150% rise in number of homeless in Germany

EPA/CARSTEN KOALL

A homeless man lies on a park bench beside a trash bin in the district Prenzlauer Berg, in Berlin, Germany,

150% rise in number of homeless in Germany


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The number of homeless people in Germany is around 860,000 and rising. The number is expected to rise a further 40% to 1.2 million by 2018.

According to figures released by Germany’s federal working group for homeless persons’ assistance (BAG), the reasons for the country’s exponential rise in the number of homeless is a shrinking supply of affordable and social housing, coupled with the government’s decision to allow to almost one million refugees to enter Germany in 2015.

As reported by Deutsche Welle (DW), Germany’s international broadcaster, statistics for 2016 show that 440,000 of the country’s 860,000 homeless people were refugees. However, BAG stressed that its data does not show hundreds of thousands of refugees living on the streets, since it also took refugees living in communal housing and shelters into account. Officials said they chose to include these refugees in their latest census as they are also in need of housing.

BAG managing director Thomas Specht stressed that “while immigration has dramatically aggravated the overall situation, but it is by no means the sole cause of the new housing shortage”. The main cause, he said, was misguided government housing policy.

Specht also noted that the number of social housing units has fallen across Germany by around 60% since 1990 to just 1.2m, as communes, states authorities and the federal government continue to sell their stock of housing to private investors.

“These policies have made affordable housing inaccessible for many,” said Specht.

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