Newsletter No 152 of 26 August 2023

Action Alliance against Housing Shortage and Urban Degradation, Newsletter 152

Protest rally before the council meeting on September 7, 2023 at 3 p.m. on Theo-Burauen-Platz.
For the reversal of the rent increases of the GAG
For the abolition of homelessness
At their party conference in November 2019, the Cologne Greens adopted “Solution approaches for the city of the future” under the title “Liveable and affordable housing in Cologne”.
They wanted to “increase the share of publicly-subsidized and long-term public welfare-oriented housing.”

They called for “the establishment of at least one new sponsor or a new public welfare-oriented company for special construction projects that aim at a high share of subsidized and affordable housing.”
They wanted to push for “urban land to be given only to publicly owned companies, public-spirited cooperatives and housing groups.”
To stabilize rents, they declared, “At least 70% publicly subsidized housing must be created on urban land.”

To make better use of land, they decided, “In development plans in Cologne, we will no longer agree to the construction of new single-family (row) houses for the foreseeable future due to inefficient land use.”
Although the strongest faction in the council, they have not implemented any of this.
We are mobilizing to the September 7, 2023 council meeting to demand that council members rescind GAG’s rent increases.

We continue to mobilize for the abolition of homelessness. Cologne has more vacancies than homeless people on the streets. The right of the homeless to exist on the streets and the human right to housing must take precedence in our city over the property rights of those who leave apartments vacant.

In the publication
Klaus Jünschke: Imprisoned & Homeless. Conversations with homeless people in prison
470 pages, 40 illustrations, 25 euros
On February 13, 2020, the Bundestag decided to recognize those persecuted by the Nazis as “asocials” and “professional criminals” and those interned in concentration camps as victims of National Socialism. Only since then has the following been true: “No one was rightly in a concentration camp”. Since the prejudices against the then persecuted and murdered so-called petty criminals, homeless, prostitutes, unemployed and other non-conformists still live on today, from 2024 an exhibition is to enlighten and help to end their continuing discrimination. Information about the planning of the exhibition can be found on the website
In light of the 70% increase in homelessness across Europe over the past decade, the European Parliament on Nov. 24, 2020, called on member states to eliminate homelessness by 2030. The press release stated:
– Homelessness is one of the most severe forms of poverty, caused by an interplay of structural, institutional and personal factors
– EU countries should decriminalize homelessness and provide equal access to public services such as health care, education and social benefits.

Documented by the Federal Statistical Office for years, it has remained unknown to the public that the homeless are the most overrepresented social group in German prisons. This also comes from, but is not limited to, the substitute prison sentence that puts those in prison who have not paid a fine. Since the federal government has just decided not to abolish the substitute prison sentence, but only to halve the length of the sentence, this will not change.
In order to scandalize the overrepresentation of homeless and homeless people in prisons, Klaus Jünschke went to the prisons of Cologne, Siegburg and Rheinbach and talked to 20 homeless and homeless people. From the stories about the reasons that led to imprisonment and from the reports about the prison situation and future prospects, the book “Gefangen & Wohnungslos” (“Imprisoned & Homeless”) was created, which informs the public about a social plight whose remedy is overdue. Homelessness must be responded to with housing keys, not handcuffs. Housing is a human right.
The book, sponsored by the City of Cologne and the associations Arche für Obdachlose e.V. and Mach Mit e.V., is published by Weissmann Verlag in Cologne.

Decriminalization of homelessness and poverty.
Dear Sir or Madam,
The UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights
and the Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing
would be pleased if the call for submissions below could be forwarded to German-speaking institutions and scholars working on criminal justice reform to encourage them to submit relevant research, publications and position papers they have published in relation to this call, as we understand that, for example, deprivation of liberty due to the inability to pay a fine is also an issue in Germany, Switzerland and Austria. In addition, to our knowledge, several German-speaking countries have laws and regulations in effect that prohibit begging and sleeping in public places.
Yours sincerely,
Gunnar Theissen
Call for submissions reopened:
Decriminalizing homelessness and poverty.
In many countries, individuals experiencing homelessness, living in poverty, or in a vulnerable situation continue to be disproportionately exposed to fines, deportation, arbitrary arrest, or imprisonment for petty offenses or behaviors necessary for survival, such as informal street vending, littering, sex work, begging, sleeping, cooking, or eating in public places. People who are unable to pay fines for petty offenses, such as riding public transportation without a valid ticket, continue to be imprisoned in many countries. Such sanctions are not only questionable from a human rights perspective, but also burden the criminal justice system with problems that would be better addressed by other measures to address the root causes of homelessness or poverty.
The Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights and the Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing have decided to submit a joint report to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva in 2024 to take stock of efforts to decriminalize crimes related to poverty or homelessness. They invite States, local governments, UN agencies, regional human rights mechanisms, national human rights institutions, experts, and civil society organizations to provide further input or updated information. The deadline for submissions is September 15, 2023.
The call for contributions and the accompanying questionnaires in English, French and Spanish are available on the following website. There you will also find the contributions already received. Please disseminate this call for papers in your networks.

The Federal Working Group on Assistance to the Homeless stated in its 85-page statement on Cologne:

– § 9 (“Performance of street music and street theater and other street art”):
(I) “Street music and street theater may be performed in the city area at any location only during the first 30 minutes of a full hour at a volume that does not significantly disturb bystanders. The use of loudspeakers and electronic amplifiers is prohibited. The second half of each hour shall be kept free of music. After each performance, the location must be changed so that the performance cannot be heard at the original location; the new location must be at least 300 feet away. Each location may be occupied only once per day and per musician/music group.”
– Section 11 (“Disorderly Conduct in Public”):
(I) “Within the scope of this Ordinance, any conduct beyond the scope of public use that is likely to endanger others, obstruct or disturb more than is avoidable under the circumstances, or damage property is prohibited, in particular by: (…)
a) certain forms of begging such as
– aggressive begging or aggressive sales practices, such as by touching, grabbing, obstructing the way, approaching in an obtrusive manner, erecting obstacles, harassing pursuit,
– Begging by the harassing collusion of more than one person,
– Organized or gang begging,
– Begging that obstructs pedestrian or street traffic,
– Begging under the pretense of physical disability or social hardship,
– Begging through the use of children or by children,
– Begging by exposing animals to the street without carrying the required, truthfully completed animal health certificates,
b) repeated gatherings of persons causing disturbances, e.g. littering or harassing passers-by,
(c) disturbances associated with alcohol or drug use (e.g., littering, bawling, harassing people, endangering others by leaving bottles lying around); and
(d) relieving oneself.”
(II) “Camping or spending the night is prohibited in public green spaces and playgrounds. In the remaining scope of this VO, it is prohibited to camp or set up or use a sleeping place.”
– Section 11a (“Alcohol and drug consumption in the immediate vicinity of kindergartens and schools”):
– “In the immediate entrance area of kindergartens and schools, the consumption of alcohol and/or drugs in public spaces is prohibited.”
– Section 32 (“Exceptions and broader uses”):
(I) “Exceptions to the provisions of this Ordinance may be permitted in justified cases, provided that this is compatible with the public interest.”
A regulatory offense is committed by anyone who intentionally or negligently violates the stipulations in §§ 9, 11 and 11a within the scope of this Ordinance (§ 33 I No. 12 to 13a and 15 to 21).
“The administrative offense according to § 13 I can be punished with a fine of up to 1,000 euros according to § 17 I OWiG” (§ 33 II).

To read

End of the line Annostraße? Homeless people in Cologne’s Südstadt between stigmatization and integration. Diploma thesis in the social work department of the Cologne University of Applied Sciences, 2001.

Of the Excluded and the Shunned
Results of a study on homeless people and the police in Duisburg
Homeless people are characterized by their different lifestyles and life histories and often come into contact with the police because of their special way of life. There are also more and more points of contact between homeless assistance and the police. By means of a qualitative study, the question is pursued as to which special features characterize this contact from the point of view of homeless people and staff of homeless assistance. The experiences reported in guided interviews are based on very different encounters with police officers. From this, homeless people each develop individual strategies for action to avoid contact with the police. However, the interactions between homeless people and police officers are by no means only characterized by conflicts. For the most part, they are comparatively unspectacular. The interaction is decisively influenced by how old the police officers are and whether they are patrol or plainclothes officers, what tone of voice they choose, how long the homeless have belonged to the local scene and are known to the police, how vulnerable they are and whether or not they present a well-groomed appearance.

Homelessness research project
Why do people in a country as rich as Germany end up in a situation of homelessness? And what causes reintegration to fail despite a comparatively well-developed welfare state? These questions are to be answered in the three-year research project using Göttingen as an example.

Broadcasts, reports, news
Gerch is the next real estate developer to go bankrupt
Gerch, a real estate group specializing in office properties and residential quarters, has filed for insolvency. The wave of bankruptcies among project developers is also being felt by many apartment seekers.

Gerch Group insolvent
What will become of the Laurenz Carré in downtown Cologne?
Real estate as a yield generator? The fat years for concrete gold are over.
Housing companies such as Vonovia and LEG are having to drastically devalue their real estate portfolios. It is quite possible that further corrections will follow. And there is the threat of further trouble. A commentary.
Berlin paper tiger
Housing alliance of the capital’s Senate has failed to achieve its ostensible goal. Now the Adler Group has dropped out
“Starving at the end of the month”
Karin helps those in need – and is herself dependent on Cologne’s Tafel food bank
Housing shortage: False prophets

27.08.2023, from 2pm Loss mer singe. Visit to the SSM, am Faulbach 2, admission 11€.
27.08.2023, 11am – 5pm, Summer party at Petershof, Lövenicher Weg 9-11, Müngersdorf
01./02.09.2023, 6pm Movement Conference Abolitionism. Kulturbunker Mülheim
07.09.2023, 15:30 Council of the City of Cologne
09.09.2023, 20:00, Where to go with Kurt? Film about 3 homeless people, Ebertplatz
01 – 10.11.2023 Prison days: homelessness/jail/homelessness
05.12.2023, 7 p.m., Werner Rügemer: Who owns my living space. Friedensbildungswerk

For a city without homelessness
For a city without evictions
For a city without drug deaths
For a city without violence against women and children
For a city without deportations
For a city without poverty
August 26, 2023
Klaus Jünschke and Rainer Kippe

Call for donations
To further improve our public relations, we need money:
Donation account MachMit! e.V. IBAN: DE53370501981011342704
Intended purpose: Aktionsbündnis

Translated with DeepL

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