Why we demonstrated 11/16/2010

In 2003, Heidi Knake-Werner, Senator for Social Affairs at the time, introduced a long-needed regulation, which gave asylum seekers receiving benefits under Article 3AsylbLG the right to move into private flats. Even though the regulation included a number of restrictions, it gave many refugees the opportunity to move out of degrading camps into private accommodation.
Compared to other states in Germany, Berlin is still doing quite well in regards to the numbers of asylum seekers living in private accommodation. However, in the last few months it has become increasingly difficult. More and more refugees have to live in Lagers, because they are unable to find any other kind of housing.
How come? /Why is it like that?
One reason for this development is a totally unrealistic restriction on rent expenditure. The Social Welfare Office only pays the rent up to a certain amount. For a single adult, for example, the rent, including bills, must not exceed 378 Euros per month. Almost every one of us will know that it is nearly impossible to find a flat for that price.
Another problem are deposits. Refugees receiving benefits under the terms of the AsylbLG have even less money than people receiving Hartz-IV. With up to 37% less than someone on social benefits, it is impossible to pay a rent deposit. However, apart from very few occasions, the Social Welfare Office won‘t pay it neither. But where will you find a landlord that rents out a flat without deposit to someone who can‘t offer any security and, on top of that, has an uncertain residence status?
Additionally, refugees are severely discriminated against on the housing market. Very often they are told: „Sorry, the flat has already been rented out“, while the same flat is still available for white German people.

Due to these problems, all the Lagers in Berlin are completely overcrowded. In the notorious first reception centre in Motardstraße, the situation is particularly bad. The centre is supposed to accommodate 400 people, but currently more than 600 are living there under horrible conditions.

The Senate of Berlin is well informed about the problems. Nonetheless, it does not take responsibility, but blames other factors: „It’s all due to the tense situation on the housing market, there are simply no cheap flats left, we can‘t do anything about it.“
And at the same time the Senator of Social Affairs, Carola Bluhm still claims that she wants to give refugees the opportunity to live in private flats. We don‘t believe you, Mrs. Bluhm!
Instead of taking concrete action to achieve this aim, the senate administration does the exact opposite and opens new lagers. Parallel, the Senate has privatized urgently needed housing space and has stopped subsidies for low cost accomodation.

Frau Bluhm, we do not need your hypocrisy. What we need is an active housing policy!
Lagers deprive people of the right to self-determination and submit their residents to permanent control. Lagers are degrading, they make people sick, physically and emotionally.
Therefore, we expect the Senate administration to create low cost housing for everybody who wants to live in Berlin. For refugees we demand active support when searching for a flat in order to compensate the specific disadvantages they are facing on the housing market.

We demand: an increase in rent allowances, deposits have to be paid for by the Social Welfare Office, asylum seekers have to be supported when searching for accommodation and a certain number of flats should be available for refugees only.

Not only in Berlin but all over Germany people are struggling against lagers.
In Denkendorf in Bayern, in Gerstungen in Thüringen, in Augsburg near München, in Meinersen in Niedersachsen, and a lot of other places anti lager actions are taking place.
We join these struggles and demand:
Private flats for everybody, shut down all lagers, let’s open all internal and external borders!