Episode 42 – Housing struggles in Berlin: Part II Grassroots Expropriation Activism

On April 15, Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court overturned Berlin’s rent cap. This immediately led to a massive spontaneous protest with 15,000 people voicing their concerns and proclaiming their right to the city. Moreover, within a week after the court’s decision the number of signatures for the grassroots campaign ‘Deutsche Wohnen & Co enteignen’ increased tremendously to an overall number of 130,000 signatures by Berlin residents.

In this episode Joanna Kusiak talks us through the transformation of the Berlin housing market and the constitutional basis for Deutsche Wohnen & Co’s goal of socializing housing in the German Capital. She explores the strategies of de-privatization used by the grassroots movement to reimagine housing in Berlin more sustainably as well as equitably. Joanna also discusses the unprecedented character of this grassroot housing activism, how it might safeguard the urban promise of Berlin, and its exemplary character for the slogan to ‘think globally and act locally’.

Our guest:

Joanna Kusiak

Joanna is a Research Fellow in Urban Studies at King’s College, Cambridge and a Visiting Scholar at Georg Simmel Center. Her work focuses on land, property and the role that legal technicalities play in shaping our cities. She is also an activist at Deutsche Wohnen & Co. Enteignen – her most recent papers on the initiative can be found here: https://rgs-ibg.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/area.12700