In 2014 three young Germans had a simple idea. Instead of living in camps or crisis accommodation, what if finding a home for a refugee was as easy as Airbnb?
The group founded Refugees Welcome, an organisation that facilitates people offering spare rooms and shared flats to refugees.
The group matches people to apartments and also helps crowd-fund rent payments.
In two years, the group has found accommodation for over 800 refugees, including 350 in Germany, 340 in Austria and more than 120 in other European countries.
The group has been offered entire flats and even houses, but they say that the program is aimed at more than just finding a roof – it’s about integration.
“Living together is the key part of the project so if you have an empty flat we turn you down because that’s not what this project is about – it’s about living with people and getting to know them,” co-founder Mareike Geiling told the UK Independent.
Geiling herself hosted a refugee from Mali along with her boyfriend and co-founder, Jonas Kakoschke.
Germany has been a focal point of the ongoing refugee crisis in Europe, with the German government pledging to accept hundreds of thousands of refugees.
The group’s figures of 350 housed is just a drop in the ocean, with Germany now housing more than one million recent asylum seekers.
Refugees expanded and now operates in nine countries across Europe. In February this year they expanded to Canada with Roofs4Refugees.
Refugees Welcome says they are also supporting groups trying set up similar systems in their own countries, including Australia.
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