Press release WDR
Women account for about a quarter of all homeless people in Germany. And more and more people from the middle class are also affected. The reasons are manifold: rising rents, separation, job loss and illness are among them. Homeless women are usually barely visible in the street scene. They try not to stand out, but are often exposed to violent assaults without protection - on the street, in emergency overnight accommodation and in hostels. Maike has experienced this: "One night I woke up because a woman hit me in the face with her fists. In such emergency accommodation you are confronted with many women you would avoid in normal everyday life. They have psychological problems, some are depressed, some are violent."
Dagmar would never be seen as homeless. The 59-year-old lives with her adult son in two small wooden huts on the street. Despite being homeless, the former retail saleswoman has managed to get herself a small cleaning job. Her earnings, however, are below the welfare rate, so she would be entitled to an increase. Since the job centre does not meet this payment, Dagmar has to make ends meet with around 100 euros a month. In the meantime she has got used to going to bed hungry. But what she will never get used to are the daily nasty insults, sexual insults and harassment to which she is often defencelessly exposed as a homeless woman in her shack. "I feel like I'm being buried alive. At night, when I try to sleep on my mattress, I often hear men peeing on the wall of my hut," says Dagmar.
And even if you have finally escaped the street - like 26-year-old Steffi - that does not mean that you can lead a normal life again. She still suffers from experiences she had when she slept under a bridge for months.
So far, there are few offers of help for homeless women like Steffi, Dagmar and Maike from politics and society.