Political organizing requires a space to gather, discuss, and strategize. In this article, Niloufar Tajeri tells us about the architecture created by the public-housing residents of Berlin-Kreuzberg in order to serve their struggle against the rampant privatization of housing in the German capital.
One of the decisive problems of urban development in large, growing German cities like Berlin is the housing shortage for people with low and middle incomes, along with intensified conditions affecting the development of the housing market such as rising rents, forced evictions, and displacement mechanisms. While the Federal government as well as municipal agencies believe that constructing new housing projects is the solution and therefore shape policies accordingly, social activists as well as academic researchers agree: that the construction of new buildings does not solve but perpetuate the housing question. The rent of a new apartment is always considerably higher than the rent of an existing apartment; the value of newly constructed property is always higher than that of existing property, and, due to the tenancy law in Germany, rents and values of existing housing stock gradually increase as a consequence. This dynamic particularly aggravates the precarious situation of low income tenants. At the same time, processes of urban segregation and living conditions for social housing tenants also worsen because of legal mechanisms that contribute to the shrinking of social housing stock by means of privatization, commodification, and financialization. Such a structural, large-scale problem that continues to be ignored by most political parties leaves those dependent on social housing unheard and unseen.