“It’s So Berlin!” 9: Layered Crisis

The ninth installment in our series of photographs and cartoons about Berlin.


Photo: Rasha Al-Jundi


Cartoon: Michael Jabareen

Speaking of homelessness and annoying neighbors, it is a fact that finding accommodation in Berlin, in the first place, is a mission impossible. This is mostly due to rising rental costs due to speculation in the city’s property market. Gentrification through the influx of wealthy individuals or investors has increasingly rendered parts of entire neighborhoods out of any average person’s reach. Fair and accessible housing has become a commodity.

To top that up, finding accommodation with what is known as “anmeldung” (registration of residence) is almost a fantasy. This is mainly due to the bureaucratic system that is by design slow and very inaccessible to many, especially migrants to the city. Without “anmeldung”, one cannot get a bank account or tax number and consequently, cannot get a formal job in Germany.

New comers to Berlin, whether Germans from other states and with low incomes and/or migrants name this as one of the major hurdles they have faced. For some who have lived in the city for years, they still struggle with finding affordable housing with “anmeldung”, and have to therefore move places every few months.

In this image, the abandoned things include a whole living room set.

Titled “Layered Crisis”, we wanted to tackle the affordable housing issue coupled with gentrification of popular neighborhoods in Berlin. The usual young city dwellers of different backgrounds cynically discuss this matter over a layered abandoned outdoor living room, while their wealthier counterpart seems to be out of touch with the realities that they are creating.

Recently, grassroots activists have started a campaign that calls for easing “anmeldung” procedures for all, to resolve the consequences that arise from its absence. They are also calling for increased social housing projects, and for removing existing ones from the market, to reduce the possibility of their annexation by private investors.

This is, unfortunately, a “normal” obstacle that is faced by every new arrival in Berlin. It affects the German born and the migrant. So if you find a couch to sleep on for a few months with “anmeldung”, take it. You never know when you would be kicked out in search for a new couch in this jungle of many layers.

Image take in Neukölln, Berlin (2022)