13 June 2014

The International Catholic Migration Committee (ICMC) and the North West Gateway Resettlement Partnership of the UK have published ‘A Place to Live, a Place to Stay: A Good Practice Guide for Housing in Refugee Resettlement’ in the framework of the SHARE Network.

The guide is based on the findings of comparative research and consultation with partners and stakeholders of the SHARE network in 8 European countries – Belgium, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Sweden and the UK.  The guide includes a comparative overview of housing for refugee resettlement in Europe, case study interviews, recommendations for policy and practice, and a summary of opportunities for funding housing for resettled refugees presented by the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) for 2014-2020.

One example of good practice highlighted in the guide is an initiative of the Belgian NGO Convivial whereby local citizens can deposit savings  which the organisation uses to make loans to refugee tenants for rent deposits and first rental payments. The refugees are obliged to repay the loans to Convivial within 10 months of receipt, and all loans are officially registered with a national bank to enable follow-up of any non-payment. The local citizens can request repayment of the full amount of their savings at any point.

“Of course refugee tenants’ lack of experience of the Belgian housing market, and general cultural differences in relation to housing, can be very challenging. How, for example, do you explain that shoes in the common hallway contravene Belgian fire safety regulations if tenants have been taught that shoes in the apartment are unsanitary? An organisation that has experience in working with refugees, like the NGO Convivial with whom I work, can work in the background to help landlords and tenants overcome any initial hurdles and build an understanding relationship based on trust and effective communication. This is really indispensable,” stated a landlord based in Brussels.

According to ICMC whilst refugee resettlement has grown steadily in Europe, with regular programmes now in 13 EU Member States, the total number of resettlement places offered by European countries is only around 5,500 – a low share of the approximately 80,000 resettlement places that are available worldwide each year. Of the 10.5 million refugees of concern to UNHCR in the world, only around 1% are submitted for resettlement.  

This article originally appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 13 June 2014.
You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.