Newsletter No 178 of 24 February 2024

Action alliance against housing shortage and urban destruction, Newsletter 178

Protest against vacancy of GAG apartments

24.02.2024, 11 a.m., Ricarda-Huch-Str.31 in front of the GAG Service Center

Why we meet every Saturday in Stammheim in front of the GAG office and in front of the GAG apartments being vacated in Elias-Gut-Strasse.

By Rainer Kippe

As you know, the houses are to be cleared and demolished and replaced by new buildings.

As you also know, the demolition will be delayed by at least a year, but the eviction is to continue and the vacated apartments are to remain empty until demolition or the demolition sites are to remain empty.

There is widespread protest against this in Cologne. The Mülheim district council unanimously calls for a review. The council representatives on GAG’s supervisory board have been asked to instruct GAG to make the apartments that have already been vacated available for homeless people and people seeking accommodation.

We are protesting against this with various actions, including a vigil every Saturday.

We stand there every Saturday to express our solidarity with the homeless and homeless people and to call for a possible solution.

We also discuss the measures we take there: Talks with politicians and the press, rallies demanding that the buildings in Elias-Gut-Straße be opened to the homeless and those seeking shelter.

We stand there until the buildings are opened.

From there, we also plan leaflet campaigns and events in the neighborhood, where we inform people and invite them to show solidarity.

The Saturday vigil is therefore also a creative meeting of activists and “vigilantes”.

“Homelessness in Cologne – an inventory and perspectives”.

The 7th municipal policy forum of the Green parliamentary group took place on February 21, 2024 in the Ehrenfeld community center. Floris Rudolph, the Greens’ social policy spokesperson, moderated the panel event with Susanne Hahmann from the Bundesarbeitsgemeinschaft Wohnungslosenhilfe, Andreas Hecht, Head of Health and Integration Assistance at SKM, and Dr. Harald Rau, Head of the Department for Social Affairs, Health and Housing. The audience consisted mainly of Green councillors, who had a parliamentary group meeting in the hall until 8 pm. The many voluntary initiatives that support the homeless on Cologne’s streets did not attend. Staff from the Vringstreff and a few others were the only representatives of the independent organizations that help the homeless. Activists from Sozialistische Selbsthilfe Mülheim (SSM) were also present.

Dr. Rau’s first sentences conveyed how poverty management works. In one breath, he assured the audience that people on the streets are in a bad way, there is no question about that, before going on to explain that Cologne’s differentiated help system receives a lot of praise and recognition nationwide. On the website , anyone can get an idea of the wide range of services on offer.

Susanne Hahmann and Andreas Hecht described how the situation of homeless people has worsened in recent years and the need for advice has increased. To make it clear to everyone listening how important and necessary their work is, the numbers of people housed in the collective accommodation in Vorgebirgsstraße and Ostmerheimer Straße were mentioned. Whether there is a connection between the help system and the worsening situation with its growing need for counseling remained undiscussed.

Dr. Rau used the words “sensational” and “innovative” too often in his list of old and new offers of help, like a fairground vendor. He talked about preventative help to avoid losing one’s home, Housing First, mobile medical services, the Kaya practice in the Mülheim Arche, the anonymous sickness certificate, hospital accommodation, hospices, street work and the planned academy for the homeless. Whether this whole range of help would still be necessary if the help system could be replaced by Housing First was not discussed. In the absence of housing, Housing First should only be an appendage to a support system that is partly responsible for the fact that the life expectancy of homeless people is 30 years below the national average and that they are extremely over-represented in prisons.

Susanne Hamann, far more soberly, spoke about the magnetic effect of Cologne, the Eastern Europeans with their lack of entitlement to benefits, but also about the discrimination of the homeless on the housing market and the violence they experience, as well as urban displacement. Keywords that everyone in the hall knows. What was missing were the consequences of the enumerations, for example, whether people were thinking of removing the seating that repels homeless people and replacing it with comfortable wooden benches. Criticism of power and domination are alien to the Protestant work ethic.

Mr. Rau spoke about the study commissioned in 2022 on the living conditions of homeless people in Cologne, which he has since received from the Society for Innovative Social Research and Social Planning (GISS). It had highlighted the multifactorial impact of homeless people, their physical and mental illnesses and their debts. Parallel to the study, the Cologne concept for combating homelessness was developed with the housing policy working group. There are plans for a night café, other daytime services, accommodation for homeless people with pets, a social housing acquisition program that can guarantee landlords security, conflict management and, due to climate change, summer aid. He then had to confess that all of this has to be paid for.

In view of the fantastic demonstration by over 8,000 employees in all areas of social work, who marched through the city at the beginning of November under the slogans “Köln bleib(t) sozial” and “Rettet das soziale Köln” to fend off cuts to their jobs, a debate on the joint fight against increasing poverty is long overdue. Unfortunately, it was not an issue.

At the end, Andreas Hecht highlighted a particularly depressing current emergency situation that is overburdening those affected and those working in shelters: an increasing number of seriously ill homeless people in need of care are being transferred from hospitals back to emergency shelters too early.

In the concluding question and answer session, Marc Kersten regretted that overcoming homelessness was not a topic at this event. In her closing remarks, Susanne Rahmann said: “We won’t manage this by 2030, not even by 2035. In view of the fact that Finland wants to be a country without homelessness by 2027, this is a scandalous capitulation.

At least the social balance of power was addressed in brief at the end. Andreas Hecht criticized investors who refuse to build unless they generate at least 15% profits. Dr. Rau explained that he perceives that profit-oriented and public welfare-oriented forces and interests are confronting each other.

On January 14, 2021, the social committee decided that all homeless people should be housed in lockable single rooms due to the pandemic. Three months later, the council confirmed this. Helping Hands, a small volunteer initiative, had long since implemented this for 40 homeless people over two winters. In view of the vacancies in residential buildings and office properties, this would be an immediately feasible interim solution on the way to Housing First for all.

“Spring report by the real estate experts”by Walter Schulz

Sometimes you just have to admit mistakes.

Admittedly stupidly, I didn’t even know that there was a “Immobilienweise” and a “Frühjahrsgutachten der Immobilienweisen”, which was published by the real estate industry association ZIA, which I am not always familiar with either. In it, the real estate sharks, represented by their chief lobbyist Andreas Mattner, are now complaining about slumping business in Berlin.

These are the people who, as a rule, contribute nothing to the goods produced and to the efforts of production, but who take a slice of the profit generated and say goodbye to it. Benko, for example, has recently sucked Karstadt and Kaufhof dry in this way, and it used to be the same with Quelle. We can measure their impact on our high streets by the vacancy rate. The relevant institutions are also heavily involved in taking top prices in the residential rental sector. After years of fat profits, the opportunities for windfall profits are now declining somewhat – and the poorest are complaining.

This is partly because the clever insurance and other companies have discovered the savings potential of the home office and are saying goodbye to rented offices in the medium term or for good. Perhaps some of them have made a mistake. We will probably soon be hearing banks complaining at the top of their voices again. The loans, the loans …

To be honest, I’m not suffering with them. At most, I feel sorry for the extremely sad face that our housing minister had to put on at the event. (I hope she didn’t do that voluntarily).

Expert opinion: Many construction projects across Germany are no longer profitable

Release from prison and homelessness

The European Observatory on Homelessness (EOH) conducts an annual comparative study on homelessness in Europe under the auspices of FEANTSA, the European Federation of Organizations for the Homeless. The 13th study entitled “Leaving Prison and Homelessness” was recently published. This study focuses on a comparative analysis of the relationship between experiences of imprisonment and homelessness in Europe. It looks at the policies, practices and protocols relating to leaving prison, both at the end of sentence and on early release, and how differences in the implementation of these arrangements may relate to homelessness. It also analyzes how the needs, characteristics, experiences, and choices of people experiencing incarceration may influence their risk of homelessness.


Programs, Reports, News

A new “37°” report on ZDF makes it shockingly clear how glaring the lack of affordable housing is in Germany. Those affected report severe and constant stress. It is “difficult not to lose hope”.

We meet with Christian Bau, co-founder of the film collective die thede, and filmmaker Doro Carl

Who owns the city? In 1975, there were concrete plans in Hamburg to demolish an entire district, the hippest in the city today: Ottensen.

Lotta Continua – the fight for the Lotta House continues

Forced evictions and displacement in Lisbon

Three % of all office properties in Cologne are empty. All homeless people could be housed in lockable single rooms if the political will was there

Homeless children and young people in Cologne

Terminally ill on the street

City of Cologne seeks security service for refugee accommodation for 217 million euros

26.08.2020: Housing shortage greatest in Cologne

In conversation: Christoph Gröner on the south of Mülheim and the cooperation with Rheinenergie

  The White Tower of Mulegns is in the starting blocks. It is the world’s first tower of this size to be 3D printed.

Ronen Steinke: Tens of thousands unjustly behind bars

Our untouchables. On the situation of mentally ill and homeless people.

How a Munich woman fights for a low rent: “It was no mercy from the landlord”

Where do the high earners live in Cologne, where is the risk of poverty highest?


24.02.2024, 11 am, Protest against vacancy of GAG apartments, Ricarda-Huch-Str.31

24.02.2024, 2 pm, NRW-wide peace demo, Alter Markt /

24.02.2024, 18:30, Exhibition Patria Perduta. The photographic works of Cologne cameraman Clemens Birckenbach document homelessness. Mathilde-Herz-Weg 32

29.02.2024, 3 pm Protest “Finally abolish homelessness” before the meeting of the Social Affairs Committee on Theo-Burauen-Platz

29.02.2024, 7 p.m., Driving without a ticket and substitute custodial sentence. With Nicole Bögelein and Thomas Münch, Maxhaus, Schulstr.11, 40213 Düsseldorf

01. 03. 2024, 7:30 pm, Richard Gebhardt: Who votes for the AfD? Peace Education Center Cologne, Obenmarspforten 7-11, 50667 Cologne.

21.03.2024, 15:30, Council

01-07.04.2023 Housing Action Week 2024

23-25.04.2024 Conference for homeless people “On the growth of street homelessness and the search for good solutions” at Maternushaus Cologne


03.05.2024, 10 am – 5 pm Practical workshop at TH Köln: “Between empowerment, advocacy and powerlessness: Political representation of interests by social work and self-organizations of people affected by poverty”

07-09.06.2024 The 10th Right to the City Forum in Berlin

10-11.06.2024 Assisted living after release from prison. Ehrenfeld community center

11.09.2024 Day of the homeless

For a city without homelessness

For a city without evictions

For a city without drug-related deaths

For a city without violence against women and children

For a city without deportations

For a city without poverty

February 24, 2024

Klaus Jünschke and Rainer Kippe


Appeal for donations

We need money to further improve our public relations work:

Donation account MachMit! e.V.  IBAN: DE53370501981011342704

Purpose: Action alliance

To discuss further actions, we will meet on Monday, March 4, 2024 at 7 pm at “Recht auf Stadt Köln” in the open meeting place of the Bürgerzentrum Alte Feuerwache

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