Over the past few years I have had the great privilege of serving, getting to know and becoming friends with refugees that I would otherwise never have met. Volunteering grassroots initiatives I quickly learnt that the major barrier facing a newly approved refugee is access into housing.
This week, as I visited a migrant family who have now been renting an apartment in Brussels for 1 year, I realised the impact stable housing has on a migrant family. When their accommodation is stable, their children are able to settle into school and make friends. The parents can attend regular language classes, leading to employment opportunities and full integration into society.
The release of the Third Overview of Housing in Europe from FEANTSA this month shows that although changes are being made, there is still a lot of work to be done. Migrants are one of the people categories at risk of homelessness, so let’s work on avoiding homelessness before it happens. When we see that the statistics for homelesness have increased in every country in Europe in the past year, apart from Finland, we can see that more needs to be done and quickly to change the tide.
It is not a simple issue I encourage everyone to take some time and help a migrant find housing, to understand what the problems are and to discover what each of us can do in his or her capacity to make a change.
To our members and the volunteers working with migrants and the homeless, thank you. It is a thankless, difficult and essential task!
Have a nice weekend and a happy Easter,