As the number of migrants seeking asylum in Germany has been going down, a German city is looking for buyers of refugee shelters it no longer needs.
The northern German city of Hamburg is selling 50 former refugee houses on eBay for €1,000 ($1,140) apiece, the daily newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung reported.
The city purchased the temporary wooden houses in 2015 at the height of the European migrant crisis, but with refugee arrivals having dropped from more than 10,000 a month three years ago to just about 400, they are no longer needed.
The offer of 301-square-foot wooden houses that could be used as a guesthouse, workshop, sports and play house or yoga studio generated overwhelming interest from potential buyers and the ad was removed a mere 48 hours after it went up.
“There was interest from all over Germany,” Daniel Posselt, spokesman for the Central Coordination Unit for Refugees, said.
The weather and winter-proof houses are well insulated and equipped with heating, hot water supply and electricity.
“This is not at all a shack,” Posselt noted.
The list of potential buyers includes a church parish that wants to buy 20 houses to accommodate refugees.
A construction company is considering the purchase of 10 houses for workers.
The houses could also be used to accommodate people without a permanent abode.
While the minimum bid for a house is just $1,140, there is still a downside to the offer that otherwise seems like a real giveaway.
Buyers are required to have a building permit because the structures are pick-up only.
This could prove a serious problem as renting a heavy-duty transporter with a large crane will set one back between €3,000 ($3,400) to €5,000 ($5,700).
“That will put off many private individuals who want a nicer garden house,” Posselt admitted.
Asylum Applications Down
Germany saw a 70 percent drop in asylum applications last year, according to data released in June by the European Asylum Support Office (EASO), Deutsche Welle wrote.
According to the Brussels-based agency, there were 222,560 applications to German authorities in 2017, down from 745,155 in 2016.
The new figures were published as a serious rift over migration threatened German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition.
EASO also said that an EU-wide downward trend, which continued in 2017, appears to have been maintained this year.