Homelessness can affect your personality

GG: Article 20, Poverty - 02/22/98

Homeless people in the welfare state - On the right to adequate housing

Walter lamp

Fundamental Rights Report 1998, pp. 189-194

The Federal Homeless Aid Association estimates the number of homeless people at around 930,000 people. Around 150,000 people live on the streets, around 50,000 of them children and young people.

Homelessness violates human dignity. Consequently, we have to understand the fact of homelessness as a violation of human dignity and the welfare state requirement. According to Article 20, Paragraph 1 of the Basic Law, the Federal Republic is determined to be a "democratic and social federal state". The welfare state requirement is at the same time with the democracy offer in Article 20.1 of the Basic Law and the special forms of the rule of law in Article 20.3 of the Basic Law at the center of the Basic Law. According to Ernst-Rudolf Huber, the welfare state is a state of social intervention that is adequate for the industrial age and is intended to protect the weaker groups in society. As a result, it is an essential task of the state to ensure such an integration of the homeless. The welfare state principle obliges the state to strive for social security, social justice and social equality.

No basic right to housing is formulated in the Basic Law. However, the consequences of homelessness impair various basic rights, such as human dignity (Art. 1 Para. 1 GG), physical integrity (Art. 2 Para. 2 GG), marriage and family (Art. 6 Para. 1 2 GG) as well the free development of personality (Article 2, Paragraph 1, Basic Law).

Homeless people generally have a right to accommodation, according to which accommodation is available to them all day not only to protect against the weather, but also otherwise as a protected area. As a rule, the municipalities are obliged to provide accommodation in this way.

Homeless is someone who does not have a closed apartment with a rental agreement. According to Section 2 of the Implementing Ordinance to Section 72 BSHG, "people without adequate accommodation within the meaning of Section 1 (2) sentence 1 are persons who live in homeless or other makeshift accommodation or in comparable accommodation", that is, homeless people are those who live in live in a homeless shelter.

From a regulatory point of view and according to general legal opinion, the homeless are a threat to public safety and order. The goods to be protected are not only security and order, but also the life and limb of the homeless. Significantly, the legal basis is formed by the police laws of the federal states.

For the regulatory authorities, only those who report themselves homeless in order to be accommodated are homeless (and are therefore also recorded statistically). As a result, far more people are homeless than the statistics show.

In June 1996 the 6th major UNO conference (Habitat II) took place in Istanbul with the main themes "adequate housing for all" and "sustainable settlements in a world tending towards urbanization". Paragraph 9 of the preamble states: "All people and all families have the right to an adequate standard of living - which includes adequate food, clothing, housing, healthy water and waste disposal - as well as a constant improvement in living conditions." And in Chapter 3 under paragraph 25, states undertake to "increase the supply of affordable housing". According to paragraph 54, it is important to "regularly assess how the need for government intervention to meet the special needs of the poor and weak groups for whom traditional market mechanisms fail" can best be met. The Federal Government signed the Habitat II conference under these guiding principles.

In Hanover, we founded the social housing aid for homeless people who cannot be placed on the housing market, in which apartments with normal rental contracts are created for the homeless through the cooperation of housing construction companies, the state capital of Hanover and a social agency (Diakonie).

The fundamental potential for conflict among the homeless lies in the link between the inequality of opportunities in participation in the housing and labor market. Homelessness usually starts with unemployment. After that, there are often marital problems, addictive behavior, illnesses, debts, withdrawal from social relationships and associations, resignation and apathy, an increase in negative attitudes towards authorities, divorce, minor criminal offenses such as fare dodging or theft and ultimately loss of accommodation. Some then try to stay with relatives for a while and start contact with the homeless scene. The individual fall to a "housing emergency" usually takes place through rent debts, eviction action up to the evacuation of the apartment and, in the extreme case, to a life in the homeless shelter or on the street. This increases the alcohol problems and the symptoms of illness. Sometimes homeless people are temporarily reassigned but are unable to keep them due to new prison sentences or increased illnesses. Since those affected often do not go to the doctor or health department regularly and discontinue therapy, they have increasing difficulties in getting new apartments. Living without a home is a struggle for survival. The street is not a waiting room for people without a home, the street destroys people's lives. Daily eating, sleeping, drinking and socializing happen in public. Without the shelter of their own home, homeless people have only a limited or no private life at all. They get lonely on the fringes of society.

Another serious cause of increasing homelessness is the continuing shortage of cheap housing for so-called problem groups. Many social ties in social housing have expired without adequate replacement being created. In addition, the number of inexpensive apartments has decreased significantly due to the demolition of old buildings, renovation, refurbishment, incorrect occupancy and conversion into property with increasing demand.

Reduced social assistance, inadequate accommodation, limited length of stay are measures taken by the municipalities that once again release homeless people into a lack of prospects. Despite free-standing living space, you have no chance of a normal apartment. The owners no longer rent to everyone for the following reasons:

- if you have rental debts and are registered with the Schufa (protection association for general loan protection):

- if they have special social problems and a high need for care;

- if they are conspicuous in their external appearance, which suggests neglect or addiction problems;

- if you have a failed tenancy behind you.

In many cases, the Hanover Housing Office requires certificates in which the supervising services have to prove that the future tenant is able to live in an apartment. In the case of homeless people in particular, there are doubts as to whether they are fit for living and whether they can fulfill the duties to be expected of them. There are three components to housing:

- the existing apartment with its size, equipment and location;

- the tenant with his life story and habits;

- the living environment (neighborhood) or the community with all the conditions and rules that have often developed over the years.

Ability to live is the agreement and the conflict-free "matching" of these three factors: environment, apartment and tenant. Because of this situation, it is difficult for a homeless person to become fit to live. It is contrary to human dignity to rely on the goodwill of third parties instead of being placed by the authorities.

The aforementioned negative effects of housing the homeless or of life on the street violate several basic and human rights. "Everyone has the right to a standard of living that guarantees his and his family's health and well-being including food, clothing, housing, medical care and the necessary social welfare services ..." says the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 (Art . 25 para. 1). Human dignity is touched when a person's self-esteem is destroyed and he has to grow up under living conditions that degrade him to an object.

The consequences of homelessness are clearly visible in relation to the "free development of personality" and the "right to life and physical integrity". The exclusion from social life, being exposed to the arbitrary behavior of third parties and the severe psychosomatic consequences make the exercise of the basic rights of Article 2 impossible.

Article 6 (1) of the Basic Law contains the obligation to provide special protection for marriage and the family through the state. The stigmatization and discrimination effects have a negative impact on the family and, in particular, on the children. Addiction problems and neglect are consequences of being homeless and make normal family life impossible. Since, according to Article 6, Paragraph 2 of the Basic Law, the care and upbringing of children is the natural right of the parents, the children are often exposed to serious harm.

If the constitutional welfare state requirement primarily promotes the socially weaker part of the population and the interests of the general public take precedence over the pursuit of selfish interests, then people have at least a moral "basic right" for a decent life in dignity. The paramount importance of living for a dignified life is also underlined in Article 13, Paragraph 1 of the Basic Law ("The apartment is inviolable").

There are different categories of human rights, especially with regard to legal enforceability. For all categories, human dignity is the decisive core in the same way. Above all, social human rights always have a protective function. They protect against possible injuries by third parties and against government regulations. At the same time, they promote positive action to realize social human rights. Even if there is no constitutionally anchored right to housing, the consequences of the loss of housing mean a considerable violation of human rights and the welfare state requirement. In view of these facts, it would make perfect sense to supplement Article 20 with a basic right to adequate housing.