German states are finding it increasingly difficult to provide accommodation for refugees, with some municipalities stressing that they hardly have any housing left.
Municipalities in the central German state of Thuringia – with a population of just over 2 million – say they hardly have any housing left to accommodate refugees from Ukraine. The Christian Democratic Party (CDU) has criticized the state government, which in turn has blamed the federal government for not doing more to address the issue.
The CDU parliamentary group accused the state of failing to support the local municipalities. The Thuringia administration is now demanding a larger budget from the German federal government for the provision of new housing.
Reportedly, some municipalities can no longer offer accommodation to refugees. Last week, the CDU faction in the Thuringian state parliament requested an unscheduled meeting of the migration committee to discuss where problems lie in housing, and where there is still capacity and how the state can help more.
One MP, Stefan Schard, accused the state authorities of watching rather than acting, and appealed to the state to cover the costs for the refugees fleeing Ukraine.
State demands money from federal government for refugee housing
The financial pressures are extending upwards, with the state now demanding money from the federal government for refugee housing. The Ministry of Infrastructure and the State Chancellery jointly announced that money had already been provided in 2015 and 2016, when a particularly large number of people from Syria arrived in Germany.
It is now essential, according to the ministry, to once again modernize vacant apartments and make them ready for people to be housed there. This would have to be co-financed by the federal government. With enough money, 3,000 new social and refugee housing units could be built in Thuringia within a very short time.
According to Thuringia Infrastructure Minister Susanna Karawanskij, from the left-wing party Die Linke, the federal government had increased its budget for social housing in 2016 from €500 million to one billion. Originally, the budget was to be doubled to €2 billion, although Karawanskij states that this never happened.
There is now pressure to act quickly in order to provide security for the municipalities and the housing industry on the one hand, while also creating sufficient housing for refugees.
However in July, Migration Minister Dirk Adams, from the Greens, described Thuringia's system for taking in refugees from Ukraine as "competent". In 2015, the state had already faced a major challenge to accommodate a large number of arrivals from Syria and had done so effectively.
Also read: Accommodation is main problem for Ukrainian arrivals in Germany
Need for new housing
Since the start of the war, Thuringia has taken in around 23,000 people from Ukraine. However, two months ago, the district council (the Landkreistag) sent an open letter to the Thuringia state government, explaining the seriousness of the situation. Several areas have since said they can no longer take in refugees.
German states are not alone in experiencing a lack of accommodation for refugees. Many European cities are currently facing a housing shortage and refugees are stuck in temporary accommodation which is ill-equipped for long-term stays.
In the EU, along with a rise in the cost of living, there has been a spike in house prices, with an increase of 9.8% in the Eurozone and 10.5% in the rest of the European Union in the first quarter of this year, compared to the same period in 2021.
Also read: Scotland houses Ukrainian refugees on cruise ship