Leaving the temporary residence center and obtaining private housing is a priority for refugees. But it’s not easy, the housing market is very tight. Munich is one such example, as one of the most expensive cities in the country.
“My daughter started biting her nails. According to the doctor, this behavior is due to the situation here, the pressure in the center,” said Sabun Minanak, sitting in a small room at a refugee reception center in Munich with with his wife, Zma. , and their two-year-old daughter.
The family fled Afghanistan in February. “The situation has become very dangerous,” explains Saboon. He worked in Kabul in the Afghan Ministry of Health, while his wife worked with various NGOs and ministries to promote women’s rights in the country. With the help of a German journalist they met in Kabul, the couple was able to reach Germany and obtain refugee status.
“I appeal to the people of Munich: This small family from Afghanistan is looking for a two-room apartment in Munich. The rent is guaranteed and paid every month by the Jobcenter (employment agency).” This is what the journalist wrote in a tweet on her personal Twitter account when she visited the family last June. This tweet sparked racist comments denouncing the privileges granted to refugees.
“In Kabul, we lived in a neighborhood near the city center, in a large apartment, where we could receive guests. We lived with my parents, who had their own room,” says Saboon.
Now the family is looking for an apartment in Munich, the city with the highest average rent in Germany, well ahead of Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Berlin and Hamburg.
“Out of the 30 or 40 requests that were sent, we only got one positive response,” Saboon said sadly. Regardless of our constant explanation to them that we attend lessons and this language cannot be learned in five months.”
fifteen square meters
The 22-year-old Afghan also believes that the arrival of Ukrainian refugees, who are also seeking housing, creates competition between people fleeing the violence.
“Some of our neighbors here told us that, after reaching an agreement with the landlords, they were called back a few days later to inform them that the housing was rented to Ukrainians.”
Sappoon just got a job as a hotel receptionist, where he works at night, takes German lessons and takes care of his daughter during the day when his wife is away. Saboon suffers from a lack of sleep.
Their room is about 15 square meters, with beds on one side of the room and a table and cupboard on the other side. About 100 people live in the center in the north-east of Munich.
Saboon explained about the current temporary housing conditions: “The place is well located, close to shops and the subway station. But there are 5 washing machines for shared use, one kitchen and one bathroom for twenty families. Sometimes you have to wait three at four hours for food .”
“We’re looking for a two-room apartment of 75 square meters. That’s what we can get at the job center, and that’s the maximum space they support.”
(Job Center) is an employment agency that supports rent for low-income people. The amounts vary from city to city in Germany. In Munich, a family of three can subsidize an apartment of up to 75 square meters and costs 1084 euros per month. In Berlin, for example, the subsidy is €634 for a house of no more than 80 square meters. In Cologne, this area is supported up to 939 euros. In addition, there is a subsidy for electricity and heating costs.
Only eight results
“But most owners do not want to rent their homes to people who depend on the office, even though the rental costs will be guaranteed,” explains Saboon.
In addition to the discrimination factor, the job center process is time-consuming because once accommodations are found, support still needs to validate transactions, which contributes to candidate exclusion.
“Even an apartment of 50 square meters would be good for us,” says Saboon. “We don’t ask for much. We only need the basics to live.”
Saboon knows that the hope of getting a 75 square meter apartment for 1,084 euros is almost impossible. At the time of writing, a search with these criteria on immobilienscout24.de, one of Germany’s leading property websites, showed only eight results in Munich.
This situation is unlikely to improve with rising energy prices, especially the gas on which most German homes rely.
The newspaper (Süddeutsche Zeitung) notes that “the search for a home is likely to become more complicated soon” as the number of building permits issued in Munich decreases, while the time required to build new homes increases.
come out of town
As in many larger cities, one reasonable solution may be to move away from the city in the hope of finding cheaper rent. But for refugees in the process of integration, such a step can mean “isolation”.
“If you live in a remote area, you can’t get to work easily, you might not get a place in a daycare center, or you won’t get German lessons. German lessons, my daughter’s daycare, my job , it’s all here,” explains Saboon. .
However, he does not rule out the possibility of leaving Munich if he does not find a place to live. But this step is geographically limited.
Germany’s refugee distribution law has been in place since 2016, requiring a person granted protection status to live in the region (Bundesland) responsible for his or her asylum application for the first three years.
“Housing is our priority,” concluded Saboon, who has been looking for an apartment since arriving in Germany in February. “Only three families from the center where we live could get a private apartment in Munich,” he adds.