According to a recent estimate published by the Federal Association for Assistance for the Homeless, the number of homeless people living on Germany’s streets has risen by 33% in a matter of just a couple of years, to 52,000. Meanwhile, as The Local notes, the number of Germans who can't afford their own home and have been forced to rely on the generosity of family and friends for a place to sleep every night has also risen a staggering 26%, to over 400,000 people.
In 2016 an estimated 52,000 people were living on German streets, an increase of a third on the 39,000 people who were living rough in 2014.
The report also claims that the overall number of people in Germany who don’t have their own home has risen sharply, from 335,000 in 2014 to 422,000 last year.
Most of the people who don’t have their own homes live in collective accommodation or have to rely on the charity of partners or family.
Of course, German officials have offered up a wide range of potential explanations for the country's exploding homelessness crisis, with Thomas Specht, head of the Federal Association for Assistance for the Homeless, blaming restricted housing supply, rising rents and stagnant wages.
“The numbers presented today on homelessness are shocking,” said Ulrike Mascher, President of the VdK social association.
“In our view this proves that ever more people are unable to pay their rents because of low wages and over-indebtedness.”
Thomas Specht, head of the Federal Association for Assistance for the Homeless, said that rising rents were just one cause of the negative development.
He pointed out that since 1990 the number of council flats had dropped by 60 percent to 1.2 million, because local councils had sold off many properties to private investors.
“The authorities have lost control of the stock of affordable housing,” he said
That said, others have pointed the finger at Angela Merkel's "Open Doors" policy which admitted nearly one million refugees from Syria, Libya, Afghanistan and other war zones in 2015, a five-fold increase over the previous year.
An increasing number of the people living on German streets are migrants from eastern Europe. Specht said however that although migration had put pressure on facilities for the homeless, it was by no means the only factor.
Karin Kühn, chairwoman of BAG Help for the Homeless, demanded immediate action from the government.
Of course, the influx of migrants became a political hot topic in recent elections after the newly welcomed refugees repaid Merkel for her 'openness' by committing 142,500 crimes during the first six months of 2016, including several high-profile sexual assaults.
Unfortunately, while the public backlash finally convinced Merkel that Germany could not take on all of the world's problems, resulting in a decision to cap future refugees admittances at 200,000 per year (something we discussed here: Germany's "Open Doors" Are Closing: Merkel Seeks New Limits On Refugees)...
The bloc agreed to limit to 200,000 annually the number of people allowed to enter Germany for humanitarian reasons. The conservatives pledged at the same time that people wouldn’t be turned back at the German border, expressing their support for the right to seek asylum in Germany and for the Geneva refugee convention, which states that countries should give protection to those who flee war and expulsion, and those who are politically persecuted.
“We continue with our efforts to permanently reduce the number of people fleeing to Germany and Europe in order to prevent a repeat of the situation such as in 2015” when Germany took in 890,000 asylum seekers, Ms. Merkel said Monday, presenting the agreement to reporters.
She said the parties agreed on measures that will ensure that the total number of admissions won’t exceed 200,000 people a year. These include dealing with newcomers seeking asylum in Germany in centralized centers where their claims will be quickly decided. Rejected asylum seekers will then be rapidly deported back to their home countries. With this move, the parties hope to speed up asylum proceedings and increase the number of deportations.
The limit of allowing up to 200,000 migrants entering the country every year could be amended by the German Parliament if an international crisis warrants it, the compromise said.
The stunning capitulation follows an embarrassing showing by Merkel’s Christian Democrats during September’s federal elections. While the party again received the largest share of the vote, its support declined by more than 8% from the prior election in Merkel’s worst-ever performance. Meanwhile, the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) party secured an unprecedented 13% of the vote, enough for it to earn representative in parliament – the first time a far-right party had been voted into Germany’s parliament since World War II.
...Merkel's epiphany apparently didn't come quickly enough to stave off a housing crisis that is now pushing German citizens onto the streets in record numbers.