nestwerk BERLIN

Nestwerk Berlin arranges and develops adequate housing for refugees. Almost a year ago and in collaboration with numerous other initiatives the platform created a contact-point for those seeking accomodation. Nestwerk helps to pass bureaucratic hurdles and supports the newcomers in all matters relating their search for housing. Using their imagination, their open hearts and determination, all the involved work on creative solutions to find homes beyond the emergency shelter.

von Hiba Obaid

Due to the huge number of international refugees and in addition to a bureaucracy that is still hardly ready to cope with such an amount of newcomers the fall of 2015 was a troublesome time at Berlin’s LAGeSo.
When that crisis reached its peak the idea of Nestwerk emerged. While a vast number of people have great intentions to offer aid, they nonetheless detested bureaucracy. The same holds true for the Nestwerk initiative.

Kerstin Hack, one of the founders of Nestwerk, explains how the story began:
“We’ve put a questionaire online, asking 300 refugees where they would like to live if given the choice? The result was the following:
50% prefered to live in separate apartments
1% chose to remain in the camps
49% expressed their desire to live in shared apartments or with German families.”

The given answers clearly indicate that 99% of the refugees wanted to move out of the camps to either live by themselves or, since a number of refugees had arrived on their own, in shared apartments or with German families.

Amongst all other initiatives that emerged during the refugee crisis Nestwerk is considered one of the more actively involved, as it tries to find solutions for the refugees’ housing crisis, by trying to decrease the bureaucratic hurdles, and explaining necessary rules and regulations.

Some Nestwerk groups therefore help refugees find their own apartments and help them obtain proper documentation, other groups seek and find shared apartments. Another Nestwerk initiative plans the construction of apartments in unoccupied spaces such as rooftops, deserted factory buildings, churches, and any other vacant and spacious places that could potentially be an adequate site for construction.

“One political rule holds true,” says Kerstin Hack, “the bigger our group the more our voice is heard in order to participate in expressing our ideas and opinions, and find solutions on a higher political level. I’ve talked to the mayor of Berlin and the new director of LAGeSo and asked them to provide more aid and support. And, indeed, they were very helpful and cooperative in facilitating the procedures’ operations.”

Nestwerk meeting. Photo: Kerstin Hack

Nestwerk currently consists of 20 cooperating organizations, each of them having one, two, or maybe a hundred members.Once a month, Refugio provides a convenient and open space for the Nestwerk members to meet and discuss pressing concerns and new initiatives.
In addition, Kerstin Hack invites other organizations to work side by side and support Nestwerk to find effective solutions.

“I hope we are able to enhance living conditions through the collaboration of politicians, creatives and other problem-solving experts. In my opinion, that is when democracy works at its best.”


Hiba Obaid is a palestinian-syrian writer born in 1990 in Aleppo, Syria. Graduating from Arabic literature department at the university of Aleppo was a big step for her to become an Arabic language specialist. During her life in Syria, Lebanon, Turkey and Germany she wrote for several magazines and newspapers in addition to revising collections of poems before publishing. She is living in Berlin since Oct. 2015. Here she is a member of the Tagesspiegel-Choir and part of WIR MACHEN DAS.