Tue, 27/02/2018 - 19:44
Refuge City. The signing of a new agreement with the Refugees Welcome platform provides a boost for the reception of refugees in the city.
Valentina is from Ukraine and has been living with Laura and her family for six months. Their home sharing experience was arranged by the Refugees Welcome platform, which puts refugees in need of housing in touch with people wanting to rent a room out.
The pilot scheme has been rolled out in the city over the last six months to get the project going. An agreement worth 15,000 euros was signed for the purpose and 13 home sharing experiences have been arranged. The success has led to a new agreement with the entity for 40,000 euros, the plan being to arrange up to 40 new experiences, continuing to foster the culture of welcoming newcomers.
Refugees Welcome takes responsibility for finding people wanting to share their homes for a minimum of six months, looking for common interests and affinities between the applicant and the host. During the home sharing period, the entity encourages social opportunities for refugees so that they can build up a network of friends around them, as well as acquiring Catalan and Spanish language skills.
The project aims to help any refugee, regardless of the stage of reception they are at. That said, priority will be given to those at the stage of the state reception plan which means they receive economic support from the state but still have difficulties in accessing housing. The idea is thus to guarantee a relationship of mutual commitment between host and refugee, rather than charity.
From the moment Barcelona declared itself a refuge city in September 2015, part of the population wanted to open up their homes and take people in. That desire to get involved will now be harnessed via the Refugees Welcome project.
The state reception and integration scheme already offers asylum seekers with no resources an integrated service, including accommodation, for a period of six to nine months. In the second stage, the state provides economic support for them to access the rented property market. In the third stage, the asylum seeker gets periodic payments from the state.
The Refugees Welcome project, with the support of Barcelona City Council and the collaboration of local entities and federations, aims to reduce the difficulties experienced by people during the second and third stages, taking into account the reality of the rented property market in the city.
No refugees without a home
Although the project has only just got started in Barcelona, it has been operating in many other cities for some time. The Refugees Welcome platform was started in Germany and is present in twelve EU countries, Canada and Australia. In its quest to find housing alternatives for refugees, it has arranged 1,100 home sharing experiences to date, 36 of them in Spain.