Publication Social Movements / Organizing - City / Municipality / Region - Socialize This! - Wohnen Socialization: A Democratic, Lawful Solution to Berlin’s Housing Crisis

Initiatives like Deutsche Wohnen & Co. enteignen stand in the best of democratic legal traditions



Policy Papers


Joanna Kusiak,


January 2021

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The yellow and purple logo of the “expropriate Deutsche Wohnen & Co.”  campaign can be seen all over Berlin these days. Photo: Startnext/DWE

The whole world is looking at Berlin with awe: in Art. 15 of the German Basic Law, Berliners have found a democratic, affordable, and lawful way to solve the housing crisis. After a year-long delay, the Berlin Senate has confirmed that the referendum on socializing housing stock proposed by a civic initiative called Deutsche Wohnen & Co. Enteignen is legally permissible.

Joanna Kusiak is an urban sociologist and Research Fellow at King’s College, Cambridge University, and also a member of the socialization working group of the initiative Deutsche Wohnen & Co. enteignen.

Now that socialization has been officially declared both legally and politically possible, the corporate real-estate lobby will try its best to misrepresent it as economically harmful and “authoritarian” in spirit. Indeed, the reverse is true. Socialization is a procedure in the best legal tradition of democratic Germany, enabling sustainable housing reforms and saving public money. It provides a valuable model for managing all kinds of public resources in the era of post-COVID-19 economic insecurity. If we all unite in the effort to collect nearly 200,000 signatures for a referendum on socializing housing, we can take Berlin from being “poor but sexy” to being “sexy, smart, and sustainable”.

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