Several homeless people are to move from a centrally located shelter to an industrial area. Activists protest with the affected people.
An employee of the social welfare office talking to activists in Dresden Pieschen Photo: Juliane Fiegler
"Together against displacement and #Mietenwahnsinn" and "The city belongs to us all". Statements like these can be read on banners and colorful signs with which about 40 activists* protested for three days in a row in front of a shelter for homeless people in Dresden Pieschen. The district is about six kilometers from Dresden’s old town. 43 people are currently housed there, and up to 20 of them are to move to the accommodation "Zur Wetterwarte 34" next to the airport near Dresden Klotzsche, according to plans by the city’s social welfare office.
Some of the residents who are to move are very afraid of it. "The accommodation is in the middle of the industrial area. On one side of it is forest, on the other the tarmac from the airport. Here in Pieschen I have friends, a network, my family doctor and a supermarket 100 meters away. In Klotzsche, the next shopping opportunity is 1.7 kilometers away. A shuttle is supposed to be available to us once an hour from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.," explains Rene, one of the residents who is to move and who is protesting with the activists.
However, it is difficult for the affected people not only because of the obviously worse transport connections and social infrastructure, but also because they have the feeling that they have been presented with a fait accompli and have not been sufficiently involved in the decision-making process. They are on 9. August of the concrete removal plans were informed, it says on inquiry with the social office. On Monday, August 19, the first residents from Pieschen were supposed to move. The protest of a group of about 40 activists* prevented this by blocking the entrance to the accommodation.
"The social welfare office simply administers these people here according to factual circumstances instead of taking their needs into account. This is anything but inclusion. One of the residents here, who is also supposed to move, told us yesterday in tears that he had already bought a sleeping pad because he would rather go back to the street than move into the accommodation in Klotzsche," one activist said.
Six weeks in the east: before the state elections in Saxony on September 1, 2019, the taz was in Dresden. Since July 22, we were on the ground with our own editorial team. Also in Brandenburg and Thuringia are or. we got up close and personal with our #tazost focus before the state elections – on https://onlinemobsoft.ru, Instagram, Facebook and Periscope. Our journalists write and talk about their latest experiences on Ostblog and Ostcast. Accompanying the reporting, there are taz talks in Frankfurt (Oder), Dresden, Wurzen and Grimma. All information about taz Ost can be found at https://onlinemobsoft.ru/ost.
The Social Welfare Office justifies the relocation plans by saying that another shelter in Dresden for homeless people is to be torn down and rebuilt. This will probably take two years. The people who have lived there so far are now to move to the accommodation in Pieschen, and 20 people who live here are to move to Klotzsche instead. However, they were not selected at random, explains the social welfare office.
Due to individual health impairments, the selected persons have special needs. The weather station in Klotzsche meets these needs, they say. For example, it is barrier-free. "However, a ramp to the entrance of the shelter is made of steel, which means that if it rains and the ramp is wet, it’s dangerous," said one activist.
Visit of the social mayor
The plan to house the homeless according to their particular needs is part of the so-called emergency housing assistance concept, which was released last year by Dresden’s social welfare office. During the development of the concept, the independent provider of the accommodation in Pieschen – the Suchtzentrum gGmbH – was only involved at the beginning, and later not so much, it says when asked.
The addiction center also operates shelters in Leipzig and Chemnitz. "With the social welfare offices in both cities and also with the health office here, we work very participatively and on an equal footing." With the Dresden social welfare office, he said, the relationship has always been different.
So Wednesday was the third day in a row that up to 40 people gathered in front of the shelter for homeless people from eight in the morning to prevent residents from moving against their will. One day earlier, even the social mayor Kristin Kaufmann from the party Die Linke stopped by from 8:45 am. However, it did not come to an agreement with the activists*.
"She invited us and the residents in Pieschen to the summer party on September 6 at the shelter in Klotzsche and asked us to take a look at the shelter there," one activist told the taz. Why the affected persons are not allowed to look at the accommodation first and then decide whether they want to move there or not is incomprehensible for the activists*.
Activists will be here again
Rene’s move was planned for Wednesday at 12 o’clock. Already at 9.40 a white van drives into the courtyard of the shelter, an employee of the social welfare office sits behind the wheel. He has a short one-on-one conversation with Rene, but then nothing happens for a long time, the activists keep the entrance blocked. They have brought breakfast and coffee.
Then, at 2 p.m., another white van approaches the shelter with the inscription "Wohnprojekt Zur Wetterwarte 34". In addition, a social welfare office employee arrives. Together with his colleague, he talks to Rene and other residents who are to be moved, comes out again, asks the activists how long they intend to block the entrance. Their answer is clear: "Until you assure us that no person has to move here against their will. Talks have to be held at eye level with the people," answer one of the activists sitting in the driveway. The social services employee explains the necessity of the move and the advantages of the weather station, the activists insist on their demand – the conversation turns in circles several times.
Meanwhile, two residents pack their things – one is ready to move, the other moves in solidarity with him. But when the white van with the inscription is supposed to pull up to the driveway, it won’t start. The situation seems absurd. A repair service is called, then the driver of the van and employees of the shelter have to push the vehicle so that it finally starts again. The activists let it drive into the yard, moving boxes are loaded through a window, the two residents get in. The director of the accommodation shouts words of farewell to the departing car.
One by one, the activists pack their belongings and, after waiting for almost eight hours, make their way home. The day was exhausting, but it was worth it for them: no one had to move against their will today. To make sure that doesn’t happen in the future, it’s clear to them: as soon as they hear about the next relocation dates for more of the 20 planned people, they’ll be here again. On Thursday, for the first time after three days, no move was planned. For Friday, things are already looking different again.