As Berlin struggles to provide affordable housing to its people, locals talk to our correspondent Vincent McAviney about rent rises and the difficulty in finding accommodation.
The Euronews red sofa was set up in Alexanderplatz, in the centre of the city, to see what Berliners think. The complaints started to flood in with one resident saying: “It’s extremely hard to find room to live. It’s extremely expensive. If you find an apartment, there are hundreds of other people who want to live there as well. I’m stuck in my apartment.”
Another Berliner told us how rent rises are pricing local people out of the market: “Yes the apartments have become much more expensive for sure, especially when they are renovated. Our apartment was really cheap for its size - but then it was renovated a few years ago and now costs 200 euros more a month. Many people can’t afford that at all.”
A third resident explains how she has been looking for a flat for years: “I’ve been looking for an apartment for three years in Berlin, three years! And I can’t find one. I have two part-time jobs, and I can’t find an apartment that I can afford by myself. I have to live in a shared flat in order to be able to afford an apartment so that I can have a home so that I don’t have to live on the streets - and that’s not just not ok.”
Developers are buying up existing buildings and forcing residents out in order to renovate them. A fate Kathrin Anhold and her neighbours at Krossener36 in nearby Friedrichshain are trying to stop.
Kathrin said the developing of cities is natural but overdeveloping them, coupled with mass tourism create problems: “I think most of the developments, some of them are natural and some of them are good and I think change is something natural." She adds: “But I think there needs to be an awareness that some of the changes are so extreme and they’re really driving people out of the city and leaving us with a desolate empty area that is maybe good for tourists at the weekend but people cannot afford to live there anymore.”
Indira Monroy and her family have lived in the same building for over a decade. They were devastated when they found out they might have to leave and think areas lose their appeal with gentrification: “It’s not healthy, I don’t think it’s healthy and I think we and other people we make the area of Berlin what it is." She goes on: "I had a workshop here, some people have cafes, restaurants, and they make the charm of the area. But they have to go away. They can’t pay the rent here. The rents sometimes they rise so fast your wages can’t keep up with it."
Some residents of Krossener36 have banded together and are planning protests. They’ve also connected with other buildings around the city facing the same threat. But it’s a situation that’s being replicated right across this continent.
Watch Vincent McAviney’s report from Berlin in the player above.