Federation for
Housing and

Europe faces identical challenges

Housing Refugee Programme - update
Housing provision to refugees across the different European countries and cities face identical challenges. The morning programme (November 12th) during the IFHP Summit in Berlin led us to conclude that picture. In a broader and with a more international focus, it is possible to establish several parallels between the challenges faced in Berlin and the findings from the IFHP programme. 
The presentations were (presentations available for download): 
To ensure adequate housing by Rolf Müller, Director of Group, Housing and Property in Federal Institute for Research on Building, Urban Affaires and Spatial Development within the Federal Office for Building and Regional Planning.
Housing construction for the growing city of Berlin by Dr. Jochen Lang, Director of department IV - Housing, Housing Construction, Urban Renewal, Social City, Senate Department for Urban Development and Environment.
Practical experiences in housing, re-development and neighbourhood management by Ingo Malter, managing director Stadt und Land (state-controlled housing company in Berlin).
Learnings from the IFHP Housing Refugee Programme throughout the autumn of 2015 by Huibert Haccou, IFHP Council member, and Christina Krog, IFHP Chief Activity Officer. The main considerations were presented, touching the topics of: 
  • Housing and Integration
  • Housing Policy and Affordable Housing Allocation 
  • Planning and Associated Regulations
The presentations about the situation in Germany and Berlin emphasized the growing pressure on the housing market in Berlin, especially on the affordable and social sectors, as the City has been seeing a growth of population and a deficit in housing provision. Currently Berlin welcomes 700 refugees a week, and is expected to grow with 50.000 new inhabitants in both 2014 and 2015. Only in 2015, more than 1M new comers (plus coming families) are expect to arrive in Germany, meaning that in the nearest future the pressure on the housing market will increase substantially.
The biggest challenge in Germany at this point is to provide temporary accommodation. The distribution system of refugees in Germany is based on a State quota. After the first State distribution, the refugees are accommodated in reception centers (temporary accommodation) and then distributed throughout the State Municipalities.
In the specific case of Berlin there has been a decrease of social housing and an subsequent increase of the land cost, related to the acquiring of real-estate by private owners and international investors and a lack of new developments in the affordable and social sectors for the past years. It was pointed the need to create space for housing (in the existing stock) through refurbishment and renovation of the existing housing units and other spaces, e.g. offices, and an alteration on the building regulations to facilitate the housing provision process.
In this matter, in the past weeks the State changed the law to make the asylum granting faster, ceased the Laws to improve buildings until 2019 and is trying to accelerate the approval of building permissions. And with these accelerate the provision of housing and the faster integration of refugees. It was also pointed that there is a need for a fast integration of refugees into the local communities and that a successful integration is only possible at the local level. Therefore, special neighborhoods just for refuges are not an option in Berlin.
What are the insights you have concerning housing refugees and affordable housing?

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