It is not easy finding a suitable rental property when having obtained refugee status. The shortage in affordable housing affects all low income tenants. For recognized refugees, there are a number of additional hurdles. They have limited time to find an apartment (two months, maximum four months), they usually only have a limited understanding of the language, are not yet familiar with the Belgian bureaucracy, and often have not yet found a permanent job.
Help with this search from counselors (professional and voluntary) is very important. As a counselor you can assist them while searching for a home, call potential landlords, go on house visits, provide information about the OCMW/CPAS to the landlord and tenant, etc.
Are you looking for information on assisting recognized refugees in their search for a home?
- Read the brochures developed by Vluchtelingenwerk Vlaanderen . We have a brochure for prospective tenants, and a brochure for landlords. Both are available in different languages.
- Take a look at the webpage www.vluchtelingenwerk.be/huisvesting for other interesting material. This page is only available in Dutch.
- Information on discrimination on the housing market can be found at Unia: http://unia.be/files/Documenten/1057-ciec_brochure_logement-nl-as.pdf
Where can I volunteer ?
Would you like to volunteer and help out recognized refugees in their search for a new home? Many places will gladly welcome the help.
1.Contact a Local Reception Initiative or an asylum center nearby
Check with a Local Reception Initiative in your community, or an asylum center near you, to see if you can help as a volunteer. You can find an overview of the asylum centers on the Fedasil website. At the municipality you can check if there is a Local Reception Initiative near you and where you can register as a volunteer.
2. Other options
There are other initiatives committed to helping recognized refugees in finding a suitable rental property. We have listed a few of them:
1. Caritas International: Housing Café’s
Volunteers at Caritas Housing Café offer individual support to recognized refugees who are looking for a place to live. The activities are varied and clearly framed: the search for housing (over the internet, local newspapers, telephone), presence and support throughout the searchfor housing , contacting landlords, going to visit a prospective home, assisting with the installation of the beneficiaries.
For more information check out: http://www.caritas.be/nl/housingcafe
This site is only available in Dutch. Volunteers are required to speak Dutch.
2. Orbit vzw: House wanted, neighbours found.
The project ‘Woning gezocht, buren gevonden’ supports individuals and organizations to find housing for recognized refugees and subsidiary protected.
For more information; www.woninggezocht.be
This site is only available in Dutch , but you can e-mail in English by using the contact form: http://www.woninggezocht.be/contact/
3. Women's Council: Women meet women
The buddy project of the Women's Council wants to encourage women to be a "buddy" forrefugee women in the Antwerp region. The objective of this project is to empower and strengthen vulnerable refugee women. Along with a buddy they can overcome the transition phase, from material help to financial support. This is done by offering support in facilitating the search for a new home
This site is only available in Dutch , but you can e-mail in English by using the contact form: http://www.vrouwenontmoetenvrouwen.net/contact
4. Get inspired by the ‘Gastvrije Gemeente’ campaign
Do you want to set up your own initiative or are you curious what is happening in your own neighborhood?
Take a look at www.gastvrijegemeente.be
This site is only available in Dutch.
5. The social map
Want to know which social organizations in your region are working on housing for recognized refugees? Visit the social map at www.desocialekaart.be and search for example on ‘huisvesting erkend vluchteling’ ('housing recognized refugees'). Contact one of these local organizations and find out if they are looking for volunteers.
This site is only available in Dutch .