German Parliament stops Housing Support for Young Unemployed

At Friday , February 17, A majority of the Federal Parliament agreed to another strange worsening of housing support for unemployed young adults in Germany.

Following a proposal made by Christian and Social Democrats the parliament decided

  • to reduce welfare income for unemployed young adults living with their parents (up to the age of 25) to 80 % of the basic welfare income of adults (which is 345 Euro/month)
  • that unemployed young adults we receive NO subsidies for their rents if they leave their parents’ households without agreement by the local labour welfare offices. If there are serious social reasons the local offices can decide to allow a change to an own flat. But, as the costs have to be paid by the local budget we have to fear that the local offices will make restrictive use of this possibility.

In fact, by this change of the “Hartz IV” legislation many young unemployed adults will have no legal chance to found their own household.

In consequence parents and families with unemployed have to face another reduction of their income. Young adults without a real job are forced to stay with their parents, a situation which will cause more family troubles and build challenges for individual emancipation.

As another consequence we fear that many young adults will try to leave their parents houses even without financial support. They will find illegal forms of work and income, informal ways of housing depending on “friends” etc. This will cause an increase of precarious housing conditions, violence and homelessness.

The parliaments’ decision was made very fast without serious negotiations, because the government wanted to save money.

Besides RUHR TENANTS FORUM welfare organisations, the evangelical churches, networks of unemployed strongly criticized this decision. There are even obvious conflict with the federal constitutions and some other legislation.

“We believe, that every adult has the right to have a flat by his/her own, indepently from the offices decisions”, Ruhr Tenants Forum stated.

Indeed, “a flat for your own” has been a main demand of the emancipative left and youth movements since Wilhelm Reich in the 20ies. This need has been a main reason for many social movements of young people like the squatter movement in the 80ies.

Family independent housing costs support for young people who never had a real job before was first introduced with the “Hartz IV” legislation in 2004. This elements was one of the few improvements of the legislation compared with the standards before. After this parliaments decision the situation for unemployed young adults is worse than before 2004. Even young adults who have lost their jobs have to stay with their parents, if the officials to not allow an exception.

Networks like the “federal coordination of social welfare initiatives” (BAG-SHI) call for strong protests. They fear that this worsening of the welfare system only is one step towards more reductions on the welfare income.

Knut Unger, Ruhr Tenants Forum