Friday, 25 September 2015

German woman threatened with eviction to make way for refugees

A woman in Germany is being evicted from her home of 16 years to make way for asylum-seekers, amid growing concerns over how Germany will find accommodation for the hundreds of thousands of refugees flooding into the country.
Bettina Halbey, a 51-year-old nurse, has lived alone in her flat in the small western German town of Nieheim since her children grew up.
On September 1, she received a letter from her landlord, the local municipality, telling her the building was being turned into a refugee shelter and she had until next May to leave.
“I was completely taken aback,” Ms Halbey told Welt newspaper. “I find it impossible to describe how the city has treated me.”
Migrants sleep on camp beds by the running track at the August Schaerttner Halle in Hanau, Germany
When Ms Halbey vented her frustration on Facebook, asking why she was being evicted when properties were standing empty in the town, her comment was shared 200,000 times.
In Germany, where 52 per cent of people rent their homes, it is unheard of to be asked to leave under such circumstances.
Tenants are strongly protected by law, and can normally only be evicted if they have broken the terms of their rental agreement.
“I’ve muddled through sorrow and distress, and then I get this notice,” said Ms Halbey, who brought up her two children as a single mother in the flat. “It was like a kick in the teeth.”
Ms Halbey insisted she was not against Germany taking refugees in. When asylum-seekers moved into the flat above hers last May, they got on well, she said.
“We take care of each other. Helping people, this is my commandment,” she said.
Although the building belongs to the local municipality, it is not social housing and Ms Halbey pays the full market rent.
But Rainer Vidal, the mayor of Nieheim, said the building was needed to house refugees because the town’s existing three shelters were full. “A new residential unit for 30 refugees in Nieheim would cost €30,000 (£22,000). This solution will cost me nothing,” he told Welt.


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