Housing of Asylum Seekers a Source of Tension

Illustration (Photo by EJ Yao / Unsplash)

A new social housing project is under construction in Berlin, but its units have been reserved exclusively for asylum seekers. The measure has prompted sharp criticism from some right-of-center lawmakers.

The 128-unit apartment complex, situated in the Spandau neighborhood of the capital Berlin, is set to be completed in May of 2024.

Upon its completion, the housing project will welcome 570 asylum seekers who are expected to live there for an unspecified amount of time before Berliners are welcomed, BZ Berlin reports.

According to housing association responsible for the construction (WBM), the available units are one- to five-room apartments ranging between an area of 35 to 100 square meters.

Lars Dormeyer, the managing director of WBM, hailed the project as a “successful example of sustainable and needs-based construction,” and said it would “contribute to the integration of refugees.” He also noted that eventually the apartments would be made “available to the general housing market” and become a “long-term attractive living space for all Berliners.” Just when Berliners will be allowed to move in remains unclear.

Housing refugees parallel to or in lieu of locals in need of social help has been a divisive topic elsewhere in the last few years.

In the Netherlands, the since-dissolved government of Mark Rutte made housing refugees a legal obligation for every municipality which put a strain on the social welfare system. As NLTimes pointed out in the case of Utrecht, the waiting list for one of about 46 500 social rental homes was 11 years on average, but in June 2022, the cabinet urgently appealed to municipalities to accelerate the housing of 7500 refugees that year.

British outlet GBNews reported last month the Home Office, the interior ministry of the United Kingdom approved the acquisition of an entire luxury apartment complex to house asylum seekers in Chelmsford, Essex. According to reports, locals opposed it and said it was “grossly unfair” to house asylum seekers while hundreds of families were stuck in temporary and sub-standard accommodation.


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