Refugees Welcomed Through Innovative Housing Program
As debate around refugees continues around the world, one group in Germany is inspiring change.
Refugees Welcome (or Flüchtlinge Willkommen in German) connects citizens willing to share their homes with refugees so that they don’t have to live in mass accommodation or face uncertainty about where they will sleep.
“We are convinced that refugees should not be stigmatized and excluded by being housed in mass accommodations,” the website says.
“Instead, we should offer them a warm welcome. We believe we can establish a more humane culture of welcoming refugees!”
Welcome Refugees is designed to be a simple but effective solution for refugee accommodation: citizens that sign up their homes are then put in touch with a refugee organisation, who will help place a refugee. There is also support for rent finance and ongoing contact with Refugees Welcome.
The simple setup has earned the group a description as the “Airbnb for refugees” and is already proving successful, with more than 780 German citizens registering to share their homes and over 130 refugees placed with families around the country.
“The people who have opened their doors for refugees are diverse: among them are PR consultants, carpenters and many students; they are between 21 and 65 years old,” Refugees Welcome says in a statement.
“In approximately one third of the cases, costs are covered by either the Job Center or the Social Welfare Office. Other flat shares come up for the rent privately and almost one quarter of the rents are paid for via micro-donations.”
While it only launched late in 2014, Refugees Welcome says it has been “overwhelmed by people’s readiness to help”.
As well as German’s signing up for the program, Refugees Welcome has received offers of help to set up similar plans in other European Union countries including the UK, Portugal and Austria, where a similar scheme has been running since January.
There is also interest from people in Australia and the United States to offer a similar support service for displaced people.
“Everywhere, people are keen to realise this idea in their countries to be able to offer refugees a home,” the group says.
“It’s time for a new culture of welcome!”
Images: Bakary Conan, who lives with Refugees Welcome initiators Jonas Kakoschke, source: Refugees Welcome press photos; A screenshot from the Refugees Welcome website, source: supplied.