Occupation, expropriation and the construction of affordable public housing.

In cities all over the world, an increasing number of workers cannot afford to buy housing, nor can they rent it, nor is there any social housing, while speculation is going strong.

Berlin is an example like any other. Eighty-five percent of Berliners live in rented housing. The difference is that in 2021 a referendum was held to expropriate the entire housing stock of landlord companies with at least 3,000 rental units in the city. The referendum was called by the social-democracy-dominated City Council of the capital because it never believed that the result could be in favor of expropriation.

The referendum was in favor of expropriation. Just over 59 percent of the population voted in favor of expropriating a housing stock of some 200,000 homes. The City Council had to invent a stratagem to circumvent the referendum result: to form a “committee of experts” to examine the real feasibility of the expropriation.

It was a way to gain time and cool the compromise. In mid-December the “experts” presented their report, concluding that the expropriation was feasible.

The City Council had wasted time and the report came at the worst time, since in mid-February there are new municipal elections and housing will be an important element of the campaign of the parties, which are not in favor. In a “democratic” country like Germany, everyone is thinking of the best way to ignore the result of a referendum.

Even Die Linke, the German “progressives”, are inclined to look for less “radical” solutions, such as an increase in housing subsidies, in order to continue patching up a pressing problem without ever solving it.

The solution to the housing problem, in Berlin and in any other large metropolis, is based on three axes: occupation, expropriation and the construction of affordable public housing.

In any other case, in 50 years’ time housing prices will still be rising because the same thing is happening as in all capitalist markets: there is overproduction. The private supply of housing increases, but workers’ wages are not enough to pay for it, which gives rise to another paradox characteristic of capitalism: more and more houses are built, but they end up in the hands of speculators and remain empty.

Overproduction does not prevent prices from continuing to rise because inflationary pressures are stronger. The housing problem will therefore become more and more pressing.

Translated with http://www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)

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