Dresden: How Ukraine’s assistant almost gave up on the city

How Ukraine’s aide is almost desperate for the city

A Dresden woman received her grandmother, mother and daughter from Kyiv and got them an apartment. Now the landlord is threatening to terminate the contract because the city does not pay the rent.

Three generations of a runaway family: Tatjana (left), Irina (centre), and Olena (right), mother, daughter, and grandmother. I found a great assistant in Claudia Hoffmann from Dresden.
© Rene Minngue

Dresden. The good news came on Thursday. Seven-year-old Irina is allowed to come to Primary School No. 144 with her mother Tajjana on Friday to register. There they discuss with the guidance teacher how the Ukrainian can be integrated into the school.

“Irina will finally be among the children again, she will face challenges and she will learn a lot of new things,” Claudia Hoffmann says. Dresden welcomed Irina, her mother, Tijjana, and her grandmother, Olena, to their home in Mekten in March. The three had fled from Kyiv to Germany for fear of war. Via a private network, Claudia Hoffmann, who had already taken care of a Syrian man and his daughter in 2015, was asked if she could help again.

“It wasn’t a question, of course,” says the 48-year-old. “My daughter had to give up her nursery and sleep with me, but she was happy to do so.” Then everything happened very quickly, the three Ukrainians were at their door on March 8. Since then, the five people have tried to be as harmonious as possible in a three-room apartment. It was not easy with the constant prayer of 65-year-old Olena and the constant use of the mobile phone of 45-year-old Tetjana, who wanted to keep track of events in Ukraine virtually.

In short, it was exhausting.

Every now and then one of the three Ukrainians was in the middle of the picture when Claudia Hoffmann participated in video conferences in the home office. “In short, it was stressful,” says the Dresden native. She assumed the three would only be with her temporarily, but the city has not provided any information on how to proceed with the apartment search.

Fortunately, Claudia Hoffmann can count on a large network of friends and acquaintances. This not only made it possible for Irina, Tigana and Olena to easily go to the gynecologist, dentist and even receive psychological care, but also to find an apartment nearby through their owner from April 1.

Trauma in the Welfare Office

But before they could be rented, the three Ukrainians needed many documents. Claudia Hoffmann informed her of her house immediately so she could open an account. But for the new apartment they needed the so-called imaginary certificate that they had been registered as refugees in Dresden. Claudia Hoffmann applied online upon arrival, but did not receive anything.

But since the three had an appointment at the Welfare Office and the working woman from Dresden could not attend, she wrote everything down in a letter to the office staff. It contained a rental offer, a fictitious certificate request, and a rental suitability test. Since Claudia Hoffmann wanted to be on the safe side that everything would work out, she sent an interpreter to the appointment. But this didn’t help either. The letter was not even considered by the employee of the Social Welfare Office, Ukrainian women received only money there and were again expelled.

“It was a huge shock to me. Time was of the essence, there were only a few days left until the planned delivery of the apartment and we had nothing to show for it.” A request from SZ to the Social Welfare Office resulted in at least one person having contact with Claudia Hoffman. I obtained a certificate of adequacy of the apartment. The only way to get a fantasy certificate quickly was to go to the Dresden trade fair. “A friend who was able to take a vacation went with us so that something wouldn’t go wrong again shortly before that,” Claudia Hoffmann recalls. Friends told her about waiting times of up to ten hours, so she took an extra vacation. But they were lucky. Two hours later Irina, Tiana and Olena had their diplomas.

Furniture and furniture from organizing yourself

Thanks to the help of her friends, Claudia Hoffmann also organized everything for this step. Furniture was donated and used electrical equipment such as stoves and refrigerators were purchased. All this was only possible thanks to the support of many individuals who gave a helping hand as well as donated money. The Lichtblick Foundation of the Sächsische Zeitung has contributed money for a basin. “If I had waited for help from the city, all three would probably live with me for several months,” Claudia Hoffmann says.

Each visitor notes how happy Irina, Tigana and Olena are to have their own four walls. The seven-year-old even made friends in the green inner courtyard.

Unpaid rent for the month of April

However, Claudia Hoffmann had another shock when the landlord wrote her that April’s rent had not been paid and that the next May rent would be due soon. If not, then you must terminate the lease without notice for reasons of equal treatment compared to other tenants.

“After that, I wrote to the lady at the social welfare office, but she didn’t respond. I really panicked,” Claudia Hoffmann says. Once again, a private contact who paid the rent for the month of April had help. “But the city can’t leave you alone like that. There are still hundreds of Ukrainians sitting in gyms and although we have already taken care of everything, we are left hanging like that.”

The Social Welfare Office indicates about 7,400 Ukrainians whose cases need treatment. “The current framework conditions in the Social Welfare Office do not exist.” Employees simply cannot keep up with the rapidly increasing number of requests being processed. There is a shortage of trained personnel and office jobs. Meanwhile, Dresden decided not to take in any more refugees. But there are reportedly 70 new positions in the Social Welfare Office, and the first appointments are expected to begin at the end of May/beginning of June this year.

However, in principle, by issuing a certificate of adequacy, the landlord undertakes that the current rental costs are recognized. This way, he can be sure that the authorities will pay him the running rent costs and security deposit if the tenant takes advantage of his benefits. Therefore, the city writes that dismissal and claim actions must now be avoided.

Dresdner would like to advise the city

An answer that Claudia Hoffmann accepts only to a limited extent. “Even in the office, priorities need to be set and issues like ours need to be addressed urgently.” Irina and the two women give her the strength to get past this unexpected obstacle. “They are very grateful.”

For all the other special assistants, Claudia Hoffmann has now compiled a checklist of what to look for, who to contact and how to do it ASAP. “I am pleased to have received an invitation from the city to explain where the problem lies and how it can be resolved.”

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