Berlin: Protest against gentrification and rent hikes draws 25,000

25,000 people demonstrated in Berlin last Saturday against rising rent prices and the lack of housing. The protest was organized by a broad coalition of 250 groups and its size far exceeded the predicted 4000 attendees. Along with the protest, over recent days various actions took place, under the slogan “Coming Together.” The happenings included street blocks, public debates and film screenings.

The protest was dominated by homemade signs and banners, with big parties and trade unions barely visible. Many demonstrators linked the issue of raising rents and gentrification with criticism of capitalism, with slogans such as “Housing is not a commodity”, “Push back capitalism”, or “No profit from our rent”. Others demanded “Apartments instead of weapons”.

The Socialist Equality Party (Sozialistische Gleichheitspartei, SGP) distributed a statement which declared that “exploding rent costs” are “a product of a deliberate policy of redistributing wealth from the bottom to the top. All parliamentary parties are involved in this.”

Berlin, as well as London and other European cities, is experiencing a massive housing crisis, with lack of  decent affordable housing and eye- watering rent increases. The number of low-income or subsidized rental properties in Berlin is decreasing, forcing many to struggle with finding accommodation in rapidly gentrified neighbourhoods. In November 2017, German Federal Homelessness Association predicted  that up to  1.2 million people could be living in shelters by the end of 2018: up from  850,000 people lacking their own accommodation in 2016, 150% more than in 2014. A total of 52,000 people were living on the streets in 2016, up a third from 2014. Half of those affected are migrants.

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Photo: Umbruch Bildarchiv