The availability of housing at the local and regional level determines how many resettled refugees can be received by resettlement programmes in Europe. The location and type of housing offered for resettlement, and the presence of welcoming and supportive local communities, are crucial drivers of the integration experiences and prospects of resettled refugees and their families. With the evolution of the Syrian refugee crisis and states' pledges to resettle vulnerable refugees from the region, and the ongoing need for places for other refugee groups around the world, the ability of European cities, regions and municipalities and their civil society partners to provide shelter, extend welcome, and so fill the number of resettlement places offered by national governments is more important than ever.
During the current economic crisis, affordable housing for refugees and other low income and/or vulnerable groups has become increasingly scarce, and housing remains a key challenge for local and regional policymakers and practitioners in Europe. So how can the issue of housing for refugee resettlement be addressed in a way that ensures quotas are filled and resettled refugees are able to settle, integrate and thrive in their new cities and municipalities? What good practice can we identify in housing for resettled refugees at the local, regional and national levels across Europe? How can we share it?
To address these questions, during 2012-13 ICMC Europe and our SHARE Network partners and stakeholders have been engaged in research to support the production of a good practice publication on housing for refugee resettlement in Europe. To support the final development of the publication, ICMC Europe together with the Belgian NGOs Convivial and Caritas International co-organised a 1.5- day expert seminar on housing for refugee resettlement on February 20-21. Held in Brussels, the seminar was attended by 35 invited expert participants from 10 European countries, representing international organisations, national governments, regional actors, municipalities, NGOs, resettled refugees and others involved in the housing for refugees..
The first day of the seminar was reserved for a presentation of the housing and integration services of Caritas International, and thematic discussions on topics reflecting the preliminary outcomes of expert interviews in the framework of ICMC's research. Click here to download a copy of the Caritas presentations (3 presentations included in one document). Topics included cooperation and planning for placement at the national, regional and local level, finding housing, housing-related integration support and building welcoming communities. On Day 2 of the programme, expert participants attended field visits hosted by Caritas International and Convivial, who both presented their services related to housing for refugees. Participants were introduced to housing and housing support services, medical and emergency food facilities and awareness-raising activities. In addition, they met with both refugee clients of both organisations and a landlord offering housing to refugees in Brussels to discuss their experience of the organisations' housing and integration suppot programmes.
Click here to download a copy of the seminar and visit programme. The SHARE Good Practice Guide on Housing for Refugee Resettlement is due for publication in April 2014.