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German homelessness rises by 50% in a year – media

More than 600,000 people were at least temporarily homeless in the EU state last year, a report has said

A sharp rise in the number of asylum seekers arriving in Germany has contributed to a more-than-50% rise in homelessness in the EU state in the past 12 months, according to a report by an emergency housing assistance organization.

Increased rents, a lack of social housing and soaring costs of living have limited accommodation options for about one million refugees fleeing the conflict in Ukraine, The Times newspaper reported, citing just-released data from the Federal Association for Aid to the Homeless (Bag W). Additionally, about 148,000 non-Ukrainians applied for asylum in the EU state in 2022, further compounding the country’s scarcity of available housing.

“Inflation, elevated costs and rising rents are bearing down heavily on households in Germany with weak incomes,” Bag W’s director Werena Rosenke told The Times. The most vulnerable, Rosenke added, are “low-income single-person households, single parents and couples with many children.”

Last year, about 607,000 people were at least temporarily homeless in Germany, Bag W said, compared to 383,000 in 2021. This was the highest count since 2018, with asylum seekers making up 411,000 of the figure (71%). While the homeless statistics were not broken down by nationality, January data from the country’s Federal Statistics Office said that Ukrainian nationals accounted for just under a third of the homeless population.

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About 50,000 of Germany’s homeless were forced to sleep on the streets, according to Bag W’s analysis. The rest were able to find temporary accommodation, such as shelters or at the residences of friends or acquaintances.

Last weekend, a poll conducted by Der Spiegel concluded that about 40% of 125 local authorities in the ‘safe haven towns’ alliance –sometimes known as ‘Sanctuary Cities’– are close to reaching their immigrant-reception limits. Another survey, this one by Hildesheim University, found that about 40% of the 600 districts polled were “overwhelmed” or “in emergency mode.”

Bag W’s report also noted that a large drop in the social housing sector has exacerbated Germany’s homelessness problems, particularly as the amount of publicly-funded accommodation has halved to just over one million in the past two decades.

“The lack of affordable accommodation remains the main cause for the housing shortage in Germany,” Rosenke said. “For this reason German and non-German homeless people alike cannot be adequately provided with accommodation that is suited to their needs.”

The number of people expected to seek asylum in Germany in 2023 is expected to pass 300,000, The Times said.

 

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