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Home is more than four walls- integration is the key

German Housing Day 2015 marked by immigration

Berlin, 10 December 2015 | Published in Social
Axel Gedaschko in his opening speech
Axel Gedaschko in his opening speech

Sustainability, Ageing and Housing, Urban Development and most importantly the integration challenges that the refugee crisis has risen over the last year for the housing associations. This year’s German Housing Day (Tag der Wohnungswirtschaft) was strongly connected to current developments.

“We can make it, people need us” said Axel Gedaschko, president of GdW during the inauguration on November 11th. The Federal Minister of Justice, the author Ahmad Mansour as well as many more representatives from the political and the financial world were among the 500 guests and speakers.

In the opening speech Federal Minister of Justice and Consumer Protection, Heiko Maas (SPD) talked about the latest developments regarding rent regulation as well as about the welcoming, the accommodation and the integration of refugees in the country, expressing this hope that “we will not repeat the same mistakes we did in the past, some decades ago”. Mr. Maas also took a minute to thank housing associations that are the ones taking care of this issue daily on the ground.

A quick response to the increasing demand is now needed, since the influx of refugees towards Germany is not going to be reduced anytime soon, because of the EU internal market and the ongoing escape from the Middle East. “We have to take into consideration that, in a globalised and connected world, crises, like the one in Syria, can some time reach us. And they will have faces, actually the ones of refugees”, stressed Minister Maas. Since there are not enough dwellings, new construction has to move quickly in order to serve the long-term accommodation of the people arriving in the German cities. “This can only happen, provided that construction costs fall and that we take a step back from standards and other requirements”, estimated Mr. Maas echoing the position of GdW

Axel Gedaschko underlined in his speech that “this is no time for business as usual”, adding that “we have a positive problem in Germany. Our financial success is obvious and attracts many people from countries and regions facing all kinds of difficulties. It’s our obligation to take care of them”. Mr. Gedaschko highlighted once again the three key demands of GdW that would make addressing the growing needs and demand easier: a) temporarily lowered standards, b) accelerated procedures, c) considerably more cost-effective construction.

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In one of the side events of the Housing Day, the Palestinian-Israeli Psychologist and Author, Ahmad Mansour, who has been living in Germany since 2004, discussed with journalist, Hajo Schumacher around the issue of religious extremism, claiming that one has to re-consider the fight against it. “Housing is needed, because homes are spaces of communication. These spaces should help establish communication with the societal majority, because in Germany is still possible to grow old without getting in touch with the rest of the society.” So, Ahmad Masour sees housing as the absolute starting point of the integration process.

Youth development has been once again among the priorities of the Housing Day. For the seventh time in a row three scholarships were offered to the best graduates of the year who are interested in accessing the real estate sector. The scholarships will lead to a bachelor’s degree in real estate at one of the universities established by the housing associations, either at the EBZ Business School in Bochum or at the BBA Academy of Real Estate in Berlin.