The dream of everyone having their own piece of land in the middle of the city is nothing new. In Neukölln there are several settlements that were built at the beginning of the 20th century for those who could not finance their own house even then. These include the Neuland I settlement in Britz, which was built in 1932.
Carola Pinnow has lived in the settlement since 1989 and is currently deputy chairwoman of the association of the same name, in which the residents organize themselves. “If you can believe the older residents, unemployed craftsmen were taken from Sonnenallee and brought to the then empty field and they were supposed to build the houses,” says Pinnow.
The houses, mostly semi-detached houses, were then probably raffled off among the craftsmen. The land belonged to the district of Neukölln, by the way, to this day, and was leased to the new residents for 99 years.
“Back then, the idea was probably to give people on low incomes the opportunity to feed themselves,” says Pinnow. Therefore, the plots are also relatively large: on the approximately 1000 square meter plots of land, in addition to areas for growing fruit and vegetables, there was also space for animal husbandry, such as rabbit hutches and chickens.
“We’ve moved closer together a little now,” says Pinnow. There are currently 226 settler sites. “But the settlement character has been preserved, which is really quite nice.”
In the meantime, the houses are no longer allocated in the orbit of the former craftsmen families, instead families can proactively apply to the district office for houses that become vacant – but there really isn’t a chance at the moment, says Carola Pinnow.
The prerequisite is that the families have a WBS. “Which of course is quite a contradiction: have a low income and then pay for the house.”
When she herself moved from Kreuzberg to the settlement in 1989, it was “like winning the lottery,” says Pinnow: with two children, the house with a large plot of land was ideal.
“The children could play here in the street without any worries, there were many hidden corners. Those were pretty heavenly times for the children,” she says, and then emphasizes the community spirit of the neighbors: there are now some who are no longer involved in the club or who tend to stay out of it in other ways. “But these are rather isolated cases,” says Pinnow.
Otherwise it is usual to help each other out. There are also regular celebrations, children’s parties and other neighborhood events. Of course, the 90th anniversary was also recently celebrated together. District Mayor Martin Hikel (SPD) was there and congratulated.