Anyone who moves in with others in a shared apartment usually takes a very close look at their future roommates: order fanatics or chaos? Night light or early bird? Avid meat eater or vegan? Whether things work out well or not with living together also depends on how similar you see many things in life. In the past few weeks, however, many flat-sharing communities have formed in the Ebersberg district, in which the participants not only did not know each other before, and where there was also a language barrier: flat-sharing communities from Upper Bavaria and Ukrainians. More than 90 percent of the refugees who have found accommodation in the Ebersberg district live in private households. That is significantly more than the Upper Bavarian average, where only a good 70 percent of the people are housed privately.
At least that’s what a snapshot from April 20 shows. According to the government of Upper Bavaria, more than 43,200 Ukrainian refugees in Upper Bavaria were already registered in the central register of foreigners at that time. Of these, almost 12,900 people were housed in government accommodation. Around 1,700 refugees from Ukraine were registered in the Ebersberg district, around 150 of whom are housed in government accommodation. Of course, a lot has changed since then, after all, people in Ukraine still have to flee from the war. And the figures are not entirely reliable either, as the government of Upper Bavaria points out: After all, Ukrainian nationals who have a biometric passport can enter Germany without a visa and stay here for 90 days without registering. Ukrainians who have family or friends here and have stayed with them may not all be included.
Nevertheless, one thing can be read from the figures: the willingness to help and hospitality in the Ebersberg district seems to be above average.
“That’s really striking,” confirms Brigitte Keller, who heads the Ukraine crisis team in the Ebersberg district office and is very happy about this fact. In many conferences she gets to know how things are going elsewhere; In many districts, gymnasiums have to be converted into accommodation and container housing complexes have to be urgently planned to accommodate the people who have fled – that’s how it was after the big wave of refugees in 2015 in the district of Ebersberg, at that time almost all gymnasiums of the district’s own schools were used at least temporarily.
Today, the Gymnasium of the Kirchseeon Gymnasium is the only one in the district that has beds and lockers, and these are mostly only used for a short time. The hall was completely empty for days, says Keller, and on Tuesday a bus with 30 people arrived again. Ideally, these should not have to set up in the mass accommodation either, because the hospitality of the people in the district has not diminished: many are still offering to accommodate Ukrainians at least temporarily.
In order to organize the distribution well, the district office has set up a dashboard that the municipalities can also access. It shows exactly where there are still places, what they look like and which guests the hosts want. On Tuesday there were still 612 offers in the system, including some apartments and entire houses, but above all individual rooms in your own apartment or in the house – just like in a shared flat.
This willingness to move closer together and to accept limitations in their own comfort pleases and fascinates everyone involved. Tobias Vorburg from the Markt Schwabener Verein Side by Side, who coordinated the refugee aid after 2015, sees big differences compared to back then. And the willingness to help is unbroken even after two months, he says.
But this special situation does not necessarily make it easy to organize help for the refugees. Maintaining an overview and getting to people is more difficult, says Vorburg. He and his colleagues have organized many open offers, a meeting café and consultation hours. Of course, there are always cases where things don’t go so well. However, it is not possible to draw any conclusions about the overall situation, says Vorburg: After all, you don’t tend to go to a consultant when everything is going great.
But it’s not just the circles of helpers that are required, which have been formed within a very short time and, according to Brigitte Keller, are doing great things. The employees in the communities are also challenged. That’s why Rainer Schott, who is responsible for looking after the refugees in Kirchseeon, answers “ambivalently” when asked how he assesses the situation. “On the one hand, I think it’s great that so many people accommodate people privately,” he says. On the other hand: What if the willingness drops rapidly in a few weeks? Then the municipality is responsible for looking for alternative accommodation.
According to Schott, there is the possibility of sending people back to the anchor center, i.e. to where they first arrived. But nobody wants that, “it would be particularly difficult for families with children,” says Schott. Once again, people would have to be torn from their now somewhat familiar surroundings, and once again they would have to deal with stress and new beginnings. So far, no one has had to be sent back to Kirchseeon, says Schott, but he has heard of such a case from Poing. He tells of a nightmare that sometimes haunts him: that he has to accommodate refugees in the ATSV hall because there is no other space.
He doesn’t blame anyone if things don’t work out together. But “a bit naïve,” says Schott, some people approached the matter with a desire to help. The fact that accommodating refugees is also challenging and tiring was something that some people didn’t initially realize, especially when the guests are not housed in their own area like a granny flat, but share the kitchen and bathroom with the hosts. “It’s like in any flat share, sometimes you just get annoyed,” says Schott, “these are supposed to be breaking points.”
So far it has gone well in most cases, even if organizationally a lot is not going as it should, as Schott reports. The exchange of data, the rules for the payment of social benefits, he believes that there is still a lot of trouble here, the system is very improvised and error-prone. At some point this will probably settle down, but Schott does not expect the situation to ease up anytime soon. “Even if they stop shooting at some point, we’ll still have a problem for a long time,” he says. A ceasefire or even a peace treaty would not change the fact that many have no home to return to.
And so there will always be new construction sites: After three months, the children of the Ukrainian refugees have the right to go to school, after six months there is a right to childcare. In any case, Schott has not yet figured out how this is supposed to work in a structure in which families have already been waiting a year for a childcare place.