Himbeerpalast to provide temporary accommodation for refugees
An open house for people in need: the East wing of the Himbeerpalast in Erlangen is to offer a temporary home for Ukrainian refugees. This has been made possible thanks to the close and unbureaucratic collaboration between FAU, Erlangen city council, the State Construction Office Erlangen-Nuremberg and the Bavarian government. Accommodation is to be provided for up to 400 people. Some preparations still need to be made before the refugees can move in to the emergency accommodation, but plans for converting the Himbeerpalast into a university building will not be delayed as a result.
Accommodation is desperately needed for people fleeing from Ukraine. On the one hand, emergency accommodation facilities are needed at short notice to put people up when they first arrive, and on the other, more permanent housing is required for those who choose to stay in Erlangen.
As a disaster relief measure, the Free State of Bavaria has now temporarily provided the currently vacant Himbeerpalast building as emergency accommodation before it is converted to a university building. The East wing along the Werner-von-Siemens-Straße is to offer an alternative to housing people in sports halls. At the moment, the city of Erlangen is using three halls to house the new arrivals.
All parties are working hand in hand to get the Himbeerpalast ready for people to move in as soon as possible. However, even just making it suitable for makeshift accommodation is quite a challenge. Suitable sanitary facilities are not yet available. The parties have agreed to arrange for sanitary containers to be set up in the inner courtyard. The city council is already in contact with possible providers, but the market is rather restricted. Beds must also be organized, and arrangements have to be made for running the facility and catering for the refugees. Another factor to be taken into consideration is the infrastructure in the building itself. After the Himbeerpalast was handed over to FAU at the end of 2020, it was largely taken off grid, and arrangements were made for it to stand vacant until construction works began. The infrastructure now has to be overhauled. It is hoped that the first refugees will be able to move in by summer.
The Himbeerpalast is only a provisional solution, offering refugees a place to stay as a stop gap. As it can only provide temporary accommodation, however, private landlords and hotel operators are still being asked to register any possibilities they have for offering refugees accommodation with the city of Erlangen via a form that can be found at www.erlangen.de/ukraine .
In spite of everything, FAU’s plans for converting the Himbeerpalast to a university building are still carrying on, without any restrictions and without delay. In order to ensure a smooth transition, the partners have agreed that the Himbeerpalast will no longer be used as temporary accommodation for refugees with effect from December 2023.
Opinions on the decision to use the Himbeerpalast as temporary accommodation:
Minister of science Markus Blume: “Bavaria and FAU are taking a clear stance for solidarity and are providing concrete assistance. I hope that the Himbeerpalast can become a refuge and temporary home for refugees. Universities build bridges and offer people from all cultures a place to meet and exchange ideas – in the current situation, this is especially true for all those people who need our help.”
The Bavarian Minister of the Interior and Integration, Joachim Herrmann, praises the creativity and dedication of the city of Erlangen and all other parties involved, from FAU to the State Construction Office to his colleagues in the Bavarian construction and science ministries: ‘It is the way it should be in such crises: everyone is pulling together to find common solutions irrespective of all party lines and bureaucratic obstacles, working together to house Ukrainian refugees with dignity. I am pleased that the Himbeerpalast can be used for such a meaningful interim purpose before being converted into a university building. The Ministry of the Interior will reimburse the city of Erlangen for expenses incurred to convert the building for its new purpose, including the installation of sanitary facilities.”
Christian Bernreiter, Bavarian Minister for Housing, Construction and Transport, supports the idea: “Together we can master the current challenges. This project aims to offer people who have lost their safety a first safe place to stay. We will continue to make every effort to move the construction project forward, and are putting the building to the best possible use in the meantime.”
Prof. Dr. Joachim Hornegger, FAU President, explains: “FAU is an open place where people can meet and exchange views and ideas. By using the Himbeerpalast in the meantime as temporary accommodation for refugees, all partners involved are taking a clear stance for humanity in view of the unbelievable events we are currently witnessing here in Europe.”
Dr. Florian Janik, Mayor of the City of Erlangen, says: “We are very grateful to FAU and the Free State of Bavaria for this opportunity. We are expecting a rush of refugees over the next weeks and months. So far, we are still coping with moving people quickly out of halls and into better accommodation. However, it is already becoming apparent that this will not always be easy. Even though accommodation in the Himbeerpalast is only a temporary solution as well, it is definitely better than housing 200 people in a large hall.”
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