The weather is moderately cool after a rainy day in Gräfekiez, Kreuzberg - Berlin. A myriad of sounds characterises the atmosphere: kids playing and screaming at the Hohenstaufenplatz park, people making their way to work or even already working, restaurants ready to serve their customers, and the loud banging of construction workers busy with apartment renovations.
Rental gentrification is a social/ urban development dilemma. Contested apartment ownership is part of the issue. Who owns the apartment determines the price tag.
Residents at Dieffenbachstrasse 29 organize themselves to resist the rising rent prices. They do this by creating campaigns, using social media and through starting activities in their community. While Berlin is generally known for being cosmopolitan and for its social culture, should rents consistently increase - the ‘Kreuzberger Mischung’ will no longer exist. This means that the diversity of people from different backgrounds, cultures, incomes and professions would not be a part of Gräfekiez anymore as unaffordable rents push residents out of the city.
As part of preserving this ‘Kiez’, an organisation called Asum GmbH provides advisory services for tenants concerning apartment agreements and their housing situations.
Christian runs his business, an embroidery shop called Stickbar, in an apartment contested to be bought either by the municipality or by an investor. He has been operating his store for 15 years since 2004 and is passionate about serving and engaging with his clients on what they like. He hopes the building is bought by the State rather than a private investor despite the fact that housing laws do not protect businesses. Many a time, property investors are only interested in making a profit and in most cases at the expense of the social fabric of a community and its environment. By buying back the properties, the state guarantees that rents won't increase and in so doing, supports the communities and reduces homelessness.
Increasing rents pose a challenge for small businesses like Christian’s Stickbar. Should this building be bought by an investor, Christian will have to move his business elsewhere.
This multimedia documentary is part of the 2018/19 training cycle of the "Young African Journalists' Accelerator Program" (YAJAP) facilitated by the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation South Africa and JournAfrica!.