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Cologne, Germany. Photo from Pixabay

Germany welcomes migrant family reunions amid housing shortage

Some 9 000 residence permits has been issued to foreign family members of "refugees" by German authorities in 2019, even though a new report showed homelessness having increased by as much as 20 percent.

Published: August 25, 2019, 1:53 pm

    Chancellor Angela Merkel’s administration seems to be ignoring the housing crisis particularly in big cities, as a new study revealed that the shortage was unlikely to change anytime soon, resulting in prices remaining high.

    Housing space is a rare commodity in the country and finding affordable housing is a challenge, with prices on the rise. Only 80 percent of the demand for housing is currently being addressed. The country is suffering from a shortage of around 2 million houses.

    The German Economic Institute (IW) in Cologne noted that over the past three years, some 283 000 new apartments were built in the country.

    Municipalities should ease building restrictions, said an IW spokesperson. In doing so, it could add the 340 000 new apartments still needed for this year as well as 2020.

    Ralf Henger, co-author of the IW study, pointed out that many have been protesting against new construction projects. “They rightly say that this would affect their quality of life,” Henger said.

    But despite the housing crisis, “[n]early 9 000 relatives of people with asylum status in Germany have moved to the country since changes to family reunification laws last year,” Deutsche Welle reported.

    Relatives of people granted political asylum or protection were able to apply for family reunification under the Geneva Convention, but the Berlin suspended that right for those with subsidiary protection in 2017.

    “The ruling coalition of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives (CDU/CSU) and the Social Democrats (SPD) agreed to lift a suspension on permits for relatives of people with ‘subsidiary protection’ after difficult negotiations in mid-2018.”

    And to make matter worse, there has been an explosive rise in homelessness and poverty in Germany, much of which was attributed to the recent massive influx of migrants. Some three in four homeless are men, most of whom are single.

    “Around 650 000 people in Germany are without a permanent home, according to figures released by the Federal Association for Assistance to Homeless People (BAGW) on Tuesday,” according to Deutsche Welle.

    Homelessness in Germany may have increased by up to a staggering 20 percent, the service said. Some estimate that at least 22 000 children are currently homeless in Germany.

    Over half of the are “asylum seekers and refugees in temporary accommodation”. BAGW CEO Werena Rosenke underlined that: “Without homes for the homeless and without a well thought-through system of prevention in every community, we will not be able to tackle homelessness and the housing shortage.”

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