Housing-café – finding housing

Caritas International Belgium Housing-café – finding housing
Caritas International Belgium Housing-café – finding housing

© Isabel Corthier

© Isabel Corthier

05/01/2018

Objective:

Facilitate refugees’ access to their first housing on the private rental market and mobilize partner proprietors while promoting the meeting between refugees and proprietors

Target Audience:

Refugees that have obtained the status of recognized refugee in Belgium and encounter difficulties finding their first housing

Place:

Housing cafés exist in Brussels, Liège, Antwerp, and Ghent once a week. However, they aim to find housing throughout the Belgian territory

Length:

Operating since November 2015

“Hi, I am calling you concerning an apartment up for rent. Is it still available?” At first glance, this is a simple and innocuous question unless you are a refugee and your future depends on it.

Difficult Access to Housing

“In two hours, I call around twenty different proprietors but visits are rare. I explain to proprietors that I am calling on behalf of a recognized refugee under the assistance of the CPAS. Suddenly, the tone changes. Sometimes positively, and other times negatively,” says Nora who is a former beneficiary of the Housing-cafés; moreover, Nora had to go into exile and leave everything behind in order to rebuild herself in Belgium.

The search for housing is even more difficult with the language barrier. “I already called proprietors, but my French makes the conversation difficult, even impossible. We are stuck. We cannot understand each other. Fortunately, there are Caritas’ Housing-cafés,” says Ramzy, a 17-year-old boy from Afghanistan who arrived in Belgium alone a couple of months ago.

Housing what ?

Housing-café teams – composed of integration coaches and volunteers – support recognized refugees in their search for housing. In addition, the team helps with the first contact with the owner by phone until installation and first steps such as registration with the commune, CPAs, school…

A Housing-café is also a place for collective awareness and lessons: what are the rights and duties of a tenant? How to best maintain their housing?

Do you want to become a partner proprietor ?

Are you a proprietor? Is your property available? Do you know proprietors? Do you want to become a partner proprietor? Caritas International is searching for proprietors ready to rent their property to recognized refugees. Get into contact with us through email proprio.solidaire@caritasint.be or by telephone at +32 2 609 06 54.

Not convinced yet? Discover Nabil and Fadia’s story. After fleeing Homs, they are now established in Beauraing in the apartment of Catherine and her husband. Also, read the three questions for Catherine, a partner proprietor.

Do you want to become a volunteer ?

Housing-cafés are a project filled with challenges with concrete and various activities. This project facilitates encounters between people of different cultures, the discovery of new realities, and the sharing of a societal project with a motivated and friendly team.

Join the Caritas volunteer team and participate – yes you too – in the integration of refugees in Belgium. Contact us on volontaires-vrijwilligers@caritas.be. You can also read Andre’s interview, a volunteer at the Housing-café.

Are you a recognized refugee looking for housing ?

Housing-cafés are organized in Liège, Brussels, Antwerp, and Ghent. To participate, registration by telephone or email is mandatory.

To register yourself or a recognized refugee, you must contact us by email or telephone.

When and where ?

Housing-cafés are organized in Liège, Brussels, Antwerp, and Ghent. Below, you can find the different hours for each location. Thank you for contacting us before coming.

  • Liège/Wallonia: Tuesdays: 2:30pm to 4:30pm at L’Evêché de Liège (Rue de Prémontrés 40, 4000 Liège)
  • Brussels: Personalized follow-up during Friday morning operating hours at Caritas International (Rue de la Charité 43, 1210 Brussels)
  • Antwerp/Flanders: Monday afternoons from 2pm to 5pm at De Loodsen vzw (Sint Jacobsmarkt 43, 2000 Antwerp)
  • Ghent/Flanders: Monday afternoons from 2pm to 5pm in the localities of Kras Gent vzw (Sint-Salvatorstraat 30, 9000 Ghent)

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