• Germany's news in English

Housing charity accused of exploiting Roma

The Local · 24 Jun 2011, 11:46

Published: 24 Jun 2011 11:46 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Investigative reporter Hans-Martin Tillack reported in this week’s Stern magazine that the Humanitas Kinderhilfe Berlin-Brandenburg has been making significant profit from renting sub-standard flats to Roma families.

The charity’s manager Lutz Thinius, who has faced bankruptcy several times according to Tillack, told the journalist, “As a public charity we were asked to take on these people in order that they no longer spend the night in neighbouring parks.”

But the flats he is housing the Roma in leave much to be desired, with one of the organisation’s flats in Berlin's Tiergarten district having “massive water damage stretched across the ceiling, and stinking of mould.”

The official business register shows that another flat in the district was bought in 2009 for €22,500 by property company ISB Immoservice, which belongs to a man named by Stern only as Thomas K., an acquaintance of Thinius.

The magazine said Humanitas rented it for a monthly inclusive rent of €410 from ISB and rented it on to Roma for €600 –at what it called, “an unusually high profit of nearly 50 percent.”

Humanitas argued that it was completely responsible for any potential non-payment of rent.

The magazine said that ISB profited from the deal as its contract with Humanitas included an up to 10 percent additional charge because the flat was being rented to third parties, a practice which the Berlin Renter Association said was not allowed.

Yet the magazine said ISB owner Thomas K. is likely to be more concerned with an investigation by Berlin’s state prosecutor into possible fraud and embezzlement, allegations he denies.

Humanitas said it worked with other charities in the city working with the Roma, but the Hilfsverein Amaro Drom group, which helps ensure Roma children attend school denied any connection. “We do not cooperate in any fashion with Humanitas,” it said.

The Berlin authorities seem to be so happy that Humanitas seems to get Roma off the streets and out of the parks, that little attention is paid to how this is done, the magazine said.

“One can actually be happy that there is Humanitas,” said one official.

Thinius seemed to play on good connections when writing to one Berliner who had complained about over-crowding of flats in his neighbourhood.

Story continues below…

“You can assume that associated groups which are on our side, also have contact to influential political levels,” said the Humanitas letter, which also warned that the, “exclusion intended by yourself of the Romanian families (EU citizens),” would be poorly received in public.

Yet Thinius himself said in several emails that his Roma tenants behave, “more like animals.” He also complained that his charity was largely abandoned by the authorities in its work conducting what he called, “Romanian disposal.”

The Local/hc

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

23:36 June 24, 2011 by crm114
are we being given all the facts here? If the Roma have €600 per month why are they living in parks? The housing market is open and one can get a reasonably nice apartment in Berlin for €600 so why would one choose a home suffering massive water damage.
12:08 June 25, 2011 by Landmine
CRM114 has a very good point...
Today's headlines
German hospital uses therapy to 'treat' paedophiles
A poster from the campaigne "Don't offend", which offers therapy to paedophiles. The sign reads "Do you love kids more than you'd prefer? There's help." Photo: DB Scholz & Friends / DPA.

A unique German initiative is offering therapy to paedophiles to control their urges, with the aim of getting them help before they offend.

Minister: 'no tolerance' for clowns after chainsaw attack
Photo: DPA

Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière has called for a zero-tolerance approach to 'killer clowns' after a series of attacks culminating in two teenagers being chased by a clown wielding a chainsaw.

Baby who was auctioned on eBay taken away from father
Photo: DPA.

A German court ruled on Thursday that a man who put his one-month-old baby up for sale on the online auction platform eBay should only be allowed contact with the child under supervision.

Portugal's ruling party calls German minister 'pyromaniac'
Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble. Photo: DPA.

The head of Portugal's ruling Socialists called German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble a "pyromaniac" on Thursday after he criticized Lisbon for reversing course on austerity.

These are Germany's top ten universities
The new library of Freiburg University. Photo: Jörgens.mi / Wikimedia Commons

These are the best universities in all of Germany - at least according to one ranking.

Introducing Swabians - 'the Scots of Germany'
Photo: DPA

These Southern Germans have quite a reputation in the rest of the country.

Woman sues dentist over job rejection for headscarf
Photo: DPA

A dentist in Stuttgart is being taken to court by a woman whom he rejected for a job as his assistant on the basis that she wears a Muslim headscarf.

Isis suspect charged with scouting Berlin attack sites
Photo: DPA

German federal prosecutors said Thursday they had brought charges against a 19-year-old Syrian man accused of having scouted targets in Berlin for a potential attack by the Isis terror group.

Berlin Holocaust memorial could not be built now: creator
The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, in Berlin. Photo: DPA.

The architect of the Berlin Holocaust memorial has said that, if he tried to build the monument again today, it would not be possible due to rising xenophobia and anti-Semitism in Germany and the United States.

'Liberal' Germany stopping Europe's 'slide into barbarism'
Ian Kershaw. Photo: DPA

Europe is not slipping into the same dark tunnel of hate and nationalism that it did in the 1930s - mainly thanks to Germany - one of the continent's leading historians has said.

10 German clichés that foreigners get very wrong
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
10 ways German completely messes up your English
Germany's 10 most weird and wonderful landmarks
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd