263,000 people in Germany are homeless

Dhe federal government published a report on the number and situation of homeless people in Germany for the first time on Thursday in Berlin. According to this, around 263,000 people were homeless on January 31 of this year. Three groups were included in the census: people in homeless shelters, people staying with friends or relatives, and homeless people living on the streets.

The report shows that the majority of those affected, 178,000 people, were housed in public or non-profit institutions. Around 49,000 are dependent on friends or relatives for shelter and are classified as covertly homeless. Another 37,000 people live on the streets as homeless people. Almost two thirds of the homeless are men and a good third are women. According to the report, 6,600 children also live with their parents in covert homelessness or on the streets. At an average of 44 years, homeless people without accommodation are significantly older than accommodated or hidden homeless people at 32 or 35 years.

The government also presented data on nationality: According to this, two thirds of the homeless without accommodation and three quarters of the hidden homeless have German nationality, all others are of foreign origin or are classified as stateless. Only 31 percent of the accommodated homeless people have German citizenship. This is due to the fact that some people in refugee accommodation are also included if they live longer there due to a lack of living space.

More than half of the homeless are chronically ill or disabled

Life without a permanent home is also characterized by many health problems. According to the survey, more than 31 percent of the hidden homeless state their state of health as “less good” or “poor”, compared to 40 percent of the homeless without accommodation. Of all those surveyed, more than half stated that they suffered from a long-term illness or disability, a quarter are addicted – among those without accommodation it is even 35 percent.

The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs was previously responsible for reporting; in future it will be the Ministry of Construction. So far, only the homeless people accommodated in the emergency aid system have been officially counted. The Federal Statistical Office published the number in July this year. The report is intended to give an accurate picture of homelessness and, according to the Federal Minister of Labor Hubertus Heil (SPD) enable more targeted aid.

Federal Minister of Construction Klara Geywitz (SPD) said the people who are visible as homeless in public spaces are “just the tip of the iceberg”. Many thousands more are affected. “It is the duty of a strong welfare state at all levels to protect the human right to housing and to enable those who are excluded from it,” said Geywitz. According to the plan, homelessness should be eliminated by 2030.

In the coalition agreement to prevent home loss and combat homelessness, the traffic light government had agreed, among other things, on a national action plan. Due to the federal structures, this requires close coordination with the federal states. The promotion of social housing is to be strengthened. According to the information, around 44,500 social housing units were subsidized nationwide in 2021, including over 30,000 rental units. An adjustment of the housing benefit to price increases and heating cost subsidies should therefore bring further relief for those affected.

With the statistics, the federal government is fulfilling its still new legal obligation to report regularly. This had been demanded for decades by the Federal Working Group for Homeless Aid (BAG W), which had previously published the numbers of homeless people based on estimates. She last assumed 306,000 homeless people as of the 2020 deadline. However, according to the BAG W, the total number is significantly higher because people who were homeless before and after the reference date are not included in the reference date count.

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