Housing is becoming increasingly unaffordable for many

The number of housing benefit recipients in the Erding district rose by almost 50 percent during the corona pandemic. In September 2019 there were 257 households, in September this year already 377, which received grants, as Claudia Fiebrandt-Kirmeyer, press officer at the Erding district office, reports. More and more people can not afford their apartment without government help. Housing benefit is a benefit for low-income families and a subsidy towards rent or the cost of owner-occupied housing. In order to receive the subsidy, an application must be submitted to the housing benefit authority at the district office.

According to Fiebrandt-Kirmeyer, the total amount that was transferred to those affected in September was 99,278 euros. In September 2019 it was 54,999 euros. In purely mathematical terms, each household gets around 263 euros. But that says little about how much support a household actually gets, as the press spokeswoman reports, since it also depends on the number of people in the “need community”. The range is between 10 and 1000 euros per month.

“We noticed in the talks that the high rental costs are becoming a problem”

Not everyone who is eligible goes straight to the housing benefit office in the district office, but is first made aware, for example, at the social counseling centers in the district that they can apply for state support. “We already have people whose income is just very low. Then there are two options: housing benefit or child benefit supplement. We notice in the discussions that the high rental costs are becoming a problem,” says Melanie Schmerbeck from the Erdinger Caritas specialist department avoiding homelessness. Many who come to Caritas social counseling do not even know that they can apply for housing benefit. The housing benefit office in the district office is very helpful and competent. “As a person affected, you can call them yourself and show your income structure and the amount of rent. You can often get the answer on the phone as to whether it makes sense to apply for housing benefit,” says Schmerbeck. If the application is made, the processing takes six to eight weeks according to our own experience. The district office in Erding currently states four to six weeks until “all documents relevant to the decision are complete”. There is no waiting list, every citizen has the right to submit an application at any time. Processing is based on the application date.

Caritas will then help you to fill out the application, because there is a lot of information to fill out on the eight pages. For example, who is still living in the apartment, whether the applicant or another member of the household has received, among other things, Hartz IV, social benefits or “transitional benefit in the amount of unemployment benefit II”. To do this, you have to provide extensive information on your income, whether taxes have been paid on it or compulsory contributions to the statutory pension insurance. “You have to submit a lot of evidence, such as proof of income for the last twelve months,” says Schmerbeck. You should also – if necessary – consult the housing benefit office if something is missing. She sees Caritas Erding well prepared for the reform of the housing allowance on January 1, 2023: “We are well positioned as a team, we can do that”.

The district office fears that the staff will not be sufficient from January 1st

The district office has more concerns when the federal government’s third relief package is completed. A nationwide case increase from 700,000 to two million people entitled to housing benefit is planned, an increase of 185 percent, writes Fiebrandt-Kirmeyer. “Of course, this cannot be done with the existing staff, since the past challenging years have already led to at least a doubling of the number of cases.” The spokeswoman says that the handling of the government’s plans by the authorities is currently being discussed and planned.

In the tenants’ association, the topic of housing benefit rarely comes up in discussions with members, says Frederic Hack, the association’s new chairman. “The very socially disadvantaged tend not to be in the tenants’ association, they turn to the social organizations because they often cannot afford to be members. In the consultations, this is rarely asked,” says Hack. But help would be given. Housing benefit is not an issue at all for the district association of workers’ welfare (Awo). “We concentrate on child, youth and school social work,” says Florian Selg, managing director of the Erdinger district association.

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