Homelessness: Structural Violence in a Rich Country by Christoph Butterwegge


Homelessness- Structural Violence in a Rich Country
by Christoph Butterwegge

[This article posted on 5/23/2022 is translated abridged from the German on the Internet, Rot Fuchs May 2023.]

Alongside starving, thirsting, freezing persons and persons lacking basic medical provisions, homelessness is the most crass form of poverty where the above conditions of human suffering are often connected. Contrary to the prevailing picture of poverty, this existential distress exists in Germany and not only in developing countries of the global South. People who have no housing and become homeless in such a rich country are handed over to “structural violence” (Johan Galtung).

…During the Covid 19 pandemic, the number of affected increased… The number of middle class persons, freelancers, solo-independents and failed employees rose. In part, the pandemic state of exception led to a total impoverishment. Despite the danger of infection, the homeless cannot “stay at home” – as demanded by physicians, virologists, and politicians. During the
repeated lockdowns, they could not sell street papers, collect bottles or earn a livelihood by begging because the necessary passersby stayed away or kept a distance out of fear of infection.

Homelessness in Germany will increase again without a fundamental turn in urban development and housing policy. The restoration of public housing and the revival of communal housing construction are necessary. A legal minimum wage above twelve euros per hour without any exceptions is part of a need-based basic security that avoids poverty, is free of repression and manages without sanctions, without upper rent limits and without all-inclusive housing and heating costs, as necessary counter-measures.

A surprising business closing, the cancellation of a work arrangement as well as relationship crises, marriage conflicts and addiction sicknesses are triggers but not causes of homelessness. These causes can be found in present social structures, prevailing property
relations and mounting socio-economic crisis phenomena. Nowhere does the capitalist economic system fail so blatantly as in the supply of living space since apartments in Germany are treated like sausages, wall tapestries and throwaway handkerchiefs. Persons without an income or with only a trifling income cannot hold their own on the market.

Many capital-investors feared bank bankruptcies and stock market collapses in the wake of the global financial-world-economic and European monetary crisis. So “concrete gold” became increasingly popular. The real estate branch is booming as never before. By a mega-fusion, Vonovia and Deutsche Wohnen formed Europe’s largest real-estate company. International financial investors discovered German real-estate as a speculation object and subjected this area of life important for the population’s existence ever more strongly to their market-logic. As owners and landlords of gigantic housing complexes, BlackRock & Co. contributed decisively to the rent-explosion in the cities.

— Source: Lunapark 21, 5/23/2022

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