Syrian refugee children react to being photographed at a refugee centre in the town of Harmanli, some 250 km (155 miles) southeast of Sofia January 21, 2014. The Bulgarian army has started to build 30-km long fencing at the border with Turkey to prevent an influx of illegal immigrants, mainly asylum seekers from Syria, according to local media.  REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov (BULGARIA - Tags: SOCIETY IMMIGRATION POLITICS CONFLICT) - RTX17O0U

BLOG: How IFHP is tackling the housing refugee crisis

In the wake of recent events, with Europe accepting the largest numbers of refugees ever and a common shortage of housing across the main European cities, the International Federation of Housing and Planning wishes to create a space that is open to debate, to raise awareness, and to promote participation amongst our society.  It is necessary to provide housing and support services to receive, accommodate and integrate refugees. There are currently 60 million refugees and internally displaced people across the globe who are fleeing violence, persecution, and terrorism who seek better conditions for living a decent life. The international community is committed to protect and host those who flee persecution and conflict.

It is our obligation and dedication to fight for increased assistance to all refugees who are in need of housing. Turning our backs to refugees and their needs is to close ones eyes to the development of future generations of Europeans citizens. We hope that you will join us as we work to promote the need for better housing and integration solutions for all.

These past months were the first of, what we hope to be a participatory and society-engaged process, as we want to strengthen the network of experts and people interested in this area. Both in our everyday lives and/or professions, we are all aware of this dramatic situation and it is our responsibility to act on it.

This blog is for all. Finding the next steps and actions is something we want to discuss and find out through your ideas.

What do you think we should do next?

Do you have an idea you want us to work on? Or help you with?

Our blog is a platform to share, discuss and listen. We realise we need to talk and work togehter on this matter.

The first step towards integration is housing! Has Europe been able to provide suitable housing for refugees? For the past 3 months, the IFHP has been working on this topic through debates, presentations and workshops to understand the current state of affairs and create the base for future developments.

So what have we been doing?
We have published two reports, conducted a workshop and participated in a congress and summit event.

How are we doing it?
Report 1. The IFHP Housing Refugees Report 1 assessed the status quo of housing refugee policy and provision across various EU member states. The findings were collated through a literature review and a questionnaire sent to housing experts and IFHP correspondents across EU countries. Participating countries were Austria, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain and Sweden.

– Absence of a holistic European housing policy and differing national and regional policy and resources.
EU faces a housing shortage, particularly within the social and affordable housing sectors.

– Refugees face multiple obstacles in gaining access to adequate housing. Reasons for this include lower housing and social support subsidies as well as complex and differential housing allocation processes.

– Many EU States experience a lack of social considerations when approaching the housing of refugees. Including poor coordination of housing and integration factors such as employment, education and training, health and social services.

Workshop + Report 2. The IFHP Refugees Report 2 is a collection of the discussion and conclusions gathered during the 2-day workshop in the Netherlands based on the findings from
the Report 1. Three topics were the base for the workshop discussion:
Housing & Integration, Housing Policy & Affordable Housing Allocation, and Zoning & Planning Regulation.

The workshop led to a series of considerations, under the three above-mentioned themes, that the group present considered the most imperative.


Housing and Integration
– Housing Pathways. It should be considered that housing and integration services are combined in a ‘pathway’ approach
– Matchmaking. It should be considered that matchmaking solutions could better respond to both refugees and municipalities’ needs

Housing Policy & Affordable Housing Allocation
– Housing Policy. It should be considered that a multi-agent approach is adopted to honour diversity in policy-making
– Affordable Housing. When providing permanent accommodation the demographic of the existing population should be taken into account.

Planning & Associated Regulation
– Planning regulation. It should be considered that planning regulations allow for a certain degree of plasticity and flexibility within both spatial planning and housing regulation
– Reallocation of zoning. It should be considered that planning zones are reallocated to enable the increased provision of affordable housing
– Associated building regulations. It should be considered that associated building regulations could be met under a phased programme.

Participation on the 51st ISOCARP Congress. At the 51st ISOCARP Congress, the considerations from the workshop were presented. The attendants at the congress showed their engagement and will to participate in further discussions and workshops promoted by the IFHP.

summit1st IFHP Summit. The morning of the IFHP Summit 2015 was dedicate to the theme of Housing Refugees and Migrants, with a specific focus on the Federal State of Berlin, where the Summit was hosted. The presentations emphasized the growing pressure on the housing market in Berlin, especially on the affordable and social sectors, as the city has been seeing a growth of population and a deficit in housing provision. It was pointed that there is a need to create space for housing (in the existing stock) through refurbishment and renovation of the existing housing units and other spaces. It was possible to establish several parallels between the challenges faced in Berlin and the findings from the IFHP programme, which leads us to conclude that housing provision to refugees across the different European countries and cities, face comparable challenges.

Next steps?

We will use this BLOG as a platform to share information, knowledge, events, and generate ideas on this matter. Please stay posted on our latest developments on IFHP website and here.

Any information you would like to share with us is most welcome. Help us to keep the conversation going!!

andreia fidalgo

Andreia Fidalgo
Member of the IFHP office in Copenhagen
Project Assistant of the Housing Refugees Project


Disclaimer: The views expressed on this site are those of the authors of the blogposts and do not reflect those of the International Federation of Housing and Planning.

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