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"We could end homelessness in five years"
Dominik Bloh knows what it feels like to be at the bottom. He believes that no one has to remain homeless and calls for "unconditional living". How does that work? Jannes asked Dominik.
Hello Dominik, where are the gaps in the social safety net?
Dominik: I believe in many places! I am aware that we have a good social network in Germany. But my question is: what happens if all else fails? Then nothing catches you and then you fall.
Then you end up at the bottom and that can look very different. It then “fell off the grid” or “outside the system”. We then discuss how this could happen. We provide help at the point where people have reached the bottom.
I always think to myself: Why don't we postpone the discussion? Why don't we say: It doesn't matter what happened to a person and build a false floor beforehand? This simple thing is enough to create a lot of change.
We are leading the discussion at the wrong point. We start at the bottom, but no one should be at the bottom.
In our new series The topicwe illuminate this time The social division. How much does poverty or wealth determine our lives - and can we somehow overcome this divide? Discuss with and subscribe to our newsletterso as not to miss anything.
How does it feel not to have a permanent place of residence?
Dominik: This feeling of having a key now is awesome. This is something that has just always been missing. One has borrowed it or got it from supervisors in institutions. But you didn't have your key.
Otherwise I was missing everything, really everything, that I have today. For me, the greatest luxury is just sleeping in boxer shorts and using a bathroom.
These are things I didn't know on the street. I slept with my clothes on and my onion layers on top. I put plastic bags over my shoes so that I don't make the sleeping bag dirty on the inside.
Washing and everything that we do in one bathroom passage, you have to visit different places and contact points on the street.
That's why there is this cycle in which you move all the time, but in which nothing can move.
What were the stereotypes and allegations you encountered while homeless?
Dominik: I've come across all the classic clichés. Why don't you go to work and just get yourself a job? Why don't you just apply for unemployment benefits and get some coal and try to create something? These are the typical things that you hear over and over again.
That is the most difficult thing to describe about the road: this restlessness. That you always have stress. It's just survival.
There is this saying "strength lies in rest". And where should a person who cannot find peace get strength from in order to be able to give further thoughts about himself or his actions?
It's not working. I'm busy and I'm here today and there tomorrow. I eat hand to mouth. And at some point it goes so far that homelessness and our bourgeois life are two different worlds for me. You just don't come into this other world anymore.
Dominik Bloh has more to say. Here you can see our interview in full length:
Nevertheless, the homeless are an integral part of the street scene. At the same time, they are barely noticed in public. Since you speak of two worlds: Are homeless people missing a voice in society, i.e. in this world?
Dominik: I think so. With many problems it is so that certain things have manifested themselves in our heads and are so much in us that we think we can't find out.
I still don't see "the problem" as a problem. We could simply do away with homelessness here in Germany. We could end this in the next five years. It's not that big. But the need is great now and the people we see every day are suffering now. This country would have the opportunity to get everyone off the streets at any time. And that's what worries me most of the time.
As a society, we generally have to be more human with one another. And politically we have to ensure that we live basic rights and that everyone can lead a decent life here. That includes living, that includes washing.
What would be different for homeless people if there was a basic income?
Dominik: I think a lot! I also believe more and more that money is actually the best help. This is our system, it is based on the fact that we have to have money to spend it. And no matter how many soups I can buy, no matter how many items of clothing and sleeping bags. But in the end a person simply needs money in hand so that he can go his own way here.
I am sure that people who have a regular income will create a better situation for themselves from it. And that the money will not be reinvested in what many may think first, that they will spend that on something else immediately after three days.
I believe the exact opposite: everyone needs a chance and when they have it, most of them take it. In reality, nobody wants to live like that.
Dominik Bloh is standing at our next raffle on April 21st on the wheel of fortune. Together we are giving away 21 basic incomes and talking about his shower bus project "Go Banyo" for homeless people. Take a look: Live on Facebook, YouTube and ours Website.
Would homeless people then become part of society again and be recognized as fellow human beings?
Dominik: There is certainly more to that. But I think that if we create the framework conditions to be part of this society, that will be a very important factor. That is the way in which help for self-help becomes possible.
It is the same with "GoBanyo", the shower bus project that we are doing in Hamburg, where people who live on the street can shower. Because we think this is helping people to help themselves.
These are ways someone can find more confidence and courage to take their next steps. Putting money in someone's pocket creates the same feeling of having a fresh shower. Think about it, if you have money in your pocket or you feel really "fresh", that's a very similar feeling. So I believe that the basic income effect can work just as well.
Thank you, Dominik! See you on April 21st at our next raffle!
What do you think? Is Homelessness a Solvable Social Problem? In our survey on The Topic: The Social Divide your opinion counts. Or write us in the comments here. Thanks for taking part!
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