Berlin activists pushing referendum to nationalize housing stock
Over a month ago, Berlin protesters started a referendum against big landlords in Berlin in order to make housing public. They’ll need to collect 20,000 signatures within six months and another 170,000 by February 2020 to get the issue on a ballot. While nationalizing housing would not increase supply, the activists hope it will make landlords realize that they either need to be fair or risk losing everything. A key event in the movement occurred with Deutsche Wohnen when purchased 800 residential units, because the 112,000 flats the investor already owns are seen as excessive . “We won’t allow our assets to be expropriated,” said Deutsche Wohnen Chief Executive Officer Michael Zahn. “That’s just not going to happen. We’re not living in a banana republic.”
Most politicians in Germany seem to be against using taxpayer money for housing, but there’s a variety of opinions on what residential policy should be. “What we really need to do is build, build and build again,” said Stefan Koerzell, a senior official at the German Trade Union Confederation, which supports the referendum. He called the growing crisis a “wake-up call” for politicians at a press conference in Berlin. Currently, Germany has the lowest proportion of homeowners in the EU, with most people living in rented properties.