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"Successful Inclusion of migrants and refugees in European cities: How local players are making it happen and what support is needed from EU level"

DesInc transnational seminar

European Parliament, Brussels, Belgium, 31 October 2018 | Published in Urban, Social
Attendees at DesInc conference
Attendees at DesInc conference

Designing Inclusion is a collaborative project co-funded by the European Union's Erasmus + programme - addressing the interface between architecture, urban design, urban planning education and the production of inclusive urban spaces for refugees and forced migrants. The project held a transnational seminar “Successful Inclusion of migrants and refugees in European cities: How local players are making it happen and what support is needed from EU level" in the European parliament on October 18th.

Speakers included host Brando Benifei MEP (PD/S&D, IT), Antoine Savary, Deputy Head of Unit of DG Migration and Home Affairs, Housing Europe President Cédric Van Styvendael and Aliyyah Ahad, Associate Policy Analyst at the Migration Policy InstituteAlso presenting were housing initiatives researched as part of the project, namely Startblok in Amsterdam, DAR=CASA in Italy, Sozialbau in Austria, GeWoBag in Berlin.

What were some of the concrete outputs of the project?

  • MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) for students of architecture and urban planning by Politecnico di Milano “Housing migrants and refugees: challenges and opportunities”,

  • the identification of new learning needs and a framework of analysis as review of CSO practices,

  • and a comprehensive handbook of refugee, migrant and newcomer accommodation and housing realities and experiences in Europe, “Solidarity practices in European Cities”, a collection of case-studies of initiatives aimed at supporting and including and migrants in society, categorised under the following themes: “Open(ing) camps + improving life in reception centres”, “Info exchange & social incubators”, “Facilitating access to private accommodation”, “Social economy & mentoring”, “Mixing publics in housing”, “Transcending status” and “Artistic practices / co-creation frameworks”.

And findings?

  • There is a need for the recognition of the complex and non-linear nature of mobility and multiplicity of responses along a journey, as well as

  • to question and revisit mainstream paradigms (integration / solidarity --> permanent / temporary)

  • and intensely promote alliance between CSOs and other partners (including HEIs (Higher Education Institutes) / spatial practices).

Handful of highlights from the conference itself include:

  • The new EU AMF (Asylum and Migration Fund) will have a focus on the local and regional level, with up to 90% co-financing rate for local authorities, CSOs and NGOs and will focus on tailor-made activities plus early stage integration measures

  • In Viennese social housing estates using the “inter-ethnic neihgbourhood housing model”, community laundry rooms are very popular with an occupancy rate of 82% of their possible operating time. Meaning these are highly frequented places where people meet, chat and exchange news

  • Comment from the panel: “There are indicators for economic integration, and there is a lack of political consensus on what successful social integration looks like which makes it difficult to talk about. Indeed, when things are going well, we usually don't talk about it at all!”

  • Finally, the projects themselves which need to be promoted, scaled-up and replicated.

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To learn more about DesInc and to follow their final outputs, click here for the website.

To take a look at Sozialbau’s recently published study “Integration in Housing: models for social cohesion”go here.