Back in December I commented on the slow pace of construction of a new building in Sulzburg. I was wrong in calling it slow. I would even be wrong in calling it glacial.
It has been two-and-a-half months, and there is not a change in the construction site. The road is still blocked by a crane, the hole is still there and there are no workers in sight. Actually, I guess you could say there is one change. Recent rain has deepened the water at the bottom of the hole.
I probably need to apologize to the construction workers I called slow in December. Turns out the lack of progress has nothing to do with their skills, and everything to do with local politics.
When I wrote last year about the construction site I didn’t know the purpose, just that there was a large hole. I have now heard that the building is being built by the city and is to be used as permanent housing for refugee families.
Germany has had a huge influx of refugees, about two million, in the past four years. Needless to say housing is at a premium – I don’t think any country is prepared for that many new residents. The Germans have risen admirably to the challenge.
Upon first arrival refugees are housed in a “heim,” which is basically communal living. In my area the heims are old army barracks, old hotels, old schools – emphasis on the “old.” The accommodation is frequently substandard, but it was all that was available. As refugees become integrated into society they are supposed to be able to move into better, individual housing. That’s the theory anyway, and the communal living aspect is supposed to last only a year or two.
In my area there are a group of Syrians who have been living for more than two years in an old school, sharing the kitchen and bathrooms. It is for these people that this new building is for, or would be if it was being built.
From what I understand, and admittedly my comprehension on these things isn’t always the best, the city started construction without checking with the neighbours. I’m not sure if they got a court injunction to stop construction or whether the city put a freeze on things when the complaints started coming in.
I don’t think those complaining are necessarily anti-immigrant. I think they may be more concerned about the proximity of this building to their residences. I get the impression it will cut off sunlight from a few places. I wouldn’t want that if I was living there.
To the best of my knowledge there has not been any public acknowledgement of the issue – but that would be easy for me to miss, given my limited German. I will admit that I am surprised there wasn’t a meeting to discuss zoning with nearby residents. In Canada that would be mandatory, and I think Germany is more bureaucratic than Canada.
I am curious as to how this situation will be resolved. The city wants to demolish the school the Syrians currently live in, but can’t do that until there is some place for them to go. From the look of that hole, and months of inaction, it may be a long time before any progress is made. For the refugees, tired of living communally, that is not good news.
Just an afterthought. The road construction in nearby Laufen, which I also referenced in December, has finally been completed. Turns out it was a three-year project. I’m thinking about a separate post for that one, so stay tuned to this space.