Like many cities around the world Berlin’s housing crisis is only getting worse. Instead of sitting idly by and watching their city become a place only for the landed gentry, Berliners decided to organize and do something. A referendum took place over this past weekend (as part of the federal election) asked Berliners if the city should take over the housing units owned by mega landlords who own more than 3,000 properties.
The city would acquire any unity about that number and make it social housing. 56% of voters made it clear: they want more public housing by taking it away from corporations only interested in profits. Housing is a human right.
Whatever happens next in Berlin it’s clear people are sick that something as necessary as housing is treated like any other commodity.
The referendum was able to take place after Deutsche Wohnen & Co Enteignen took advantage of a mechanism in German law, which allows certain topics to go to a referendum if a group can collect 175,000 signatures from city residents. In June, campaigners announced they had collected 343,000 signatures on the housing referendum, which received a boost when a city-wide rent cap was overturned in April.
â€œTogether we moved the city and shook up politics â€“ that’s what we’re celebrating today,â€ Joanna Kusiak, a spokesperson for Deutsche Wohnen & Co Enteignen said. â€œThousands have become active with us. We are anchored with our structures in each district. We faced powerful opponents: inside and won. We’re not going away anytime soon.â€