The closure of a nursing home in Berlin caused a stir because of the planned accommodation for migrants there. The sponsors involved, but also the umbrella organization Diakonie Berlin Brandenburg, spoke up on Wednesday with their own statements. They complained, among other things, that some of the reports were “sensational”.
The Johannesstift, which operates the facility in the district of Wedding, had the closure of the home ("Pflege
WELT has received the statement from the Johannisstift, which speaks of a “very complex situation”. From 2006 there was a tenancy for the building on Müllerstrasse, with the option of a 25-year term. From 2021 there were said talks with the owner, the Paul-Gerhard-Stift. Apparently, he wanted to push through an increase in rent and lease rates, the amount of which the operator, the Johannesstift, did not agree with.
The aforementioned “premature termination of the rental and lease agreements” was then agreed. According to the information, the monastery now wants to use the building for other purposes.
This has consequences for the remaining 100 residents. New tenancies have to be found for them, as confirmed by the Johannesstift WELT. However, this development has been apparent since 2021, so that no more places and apartments have been occupied since 2022. As the statement goes on to say, the residents, some of whom are in need of care, are supported by social services and the management of the home in their search for new housing.
First of all, the lower part of the multi-storey house can still be used. However, the two upper floors have already been handed over to the owner for another use. According to a report by "Focus", the first new tenants, who are said to be migrants, have already moved in there.
The owner, the Paul-Gerhard-Stift, meanwhile expressly emphasized that the decision to convert the building for those in need of protection who had suffered multiple traumas was only made after the prematurely changed contract. The background to the excitement is the report by "Focus" on the change of use, which speculates whether refugee aid is possibly more lucrative than nursing care for the elderly because of public subsidies. The statement, which was available to the media service epd, also expressly underlined that no termination of the rental contract had been given to the Johannesstift Diakonie.
The pen also rejected the "Focus" information, after which "personal use" was registered. The conversion of the nursing home is also not an economic decision, but purely “from the existing structures and the needs of the State Office for Refugee Affairs (LAF)”. The Paul-Gerhard-Stift currently does not operate any senior citizens' facilities, but only refugee aid. As the "Focus" had also reported, there was in fact a corresponding request from the LAF.
Like many other German municipalities, Berlin is currently intensively looking for housing for migrants and asylum seekers.
The process led to numerous media reports, including local press such as “Berliner Zeitung” and “B.Z.”. In another article on Tuesday, "Focus" also wrote about the sometimes emotional departure of the old residents. “During the evictions, tears have already flowed among those affected who have been fired. Containers stood in front of the building for days, the furniture was simply thrown away," the magazine quoted an anonymous relative as saying.
In addition, the text commented: "It seems bizarre that the whereabouts of elderly people in need of care who wanted to enjoy their well-deserved retirement in peace and dignity, obviously failed due to the dispute between two institutions of the Protestant Church over rent and in the end the senior citizens before the door has been and will be set."
The Diakonie, the umbrella organization in which both carriers are organized, spoke up on Tuesday with its own statement and tried to smooth the waves. "The media excitement about the admission of refugees in the Paul-Gerhardt-Stift in Berlin represents a heavy burden for the residents of the senior citizens' facility there. The lurid weighing up of senior citizens against refugees is now not expedient," writes Ursula Schoen, the director the Diakonie Berlin-Brandenburg-schlesische Oberlausitz.
In particular, the reporting about the Johannesstift also puts a strain on the employees, who work daily "for the weakest in our society". Furthermore, it is pointed out that the Diakonie is also committed to migrants and offers accommodation and social care to over 5,000 refugees in Berlin and Brandenburg alone. "This work is anything but a gold mine," it continues.
Editor's note: The text has been updated with new comments