How a group of citizens responded to Luxembourg’s housing crisis by welcoming refugees into their homes
Author: María Elorza Saralegui
This article is part of Changing the Narrative. Articles in this series are written by student or early career journalists who took part in The Local’s training course on solutions-focused migration reporting. Find out more about the project here.
Of the challenges Luxembourg faces when it comes to the safe integration of asylum seekers, the oversaturation of its asylum centres is perhaps the most pressing. Both the Consultative Human Rights Commission of Luxembourg (CCDH) and the government itself in their most recent reports criticised the crowded living conditions of the centres.
The asylum process can take up to 21 months, and living in a state of uncertainty when a place was considered to be the “end destination” can create additional trauma for asylum seekers who have already suffered difficult journeys. As Mahdi, who arrived in the country in 2015 and spent a year in a shelter, says, “you don’t move forward”.
Luxembourg has a growing lack of affordable housing options even for permanent residents. For a person newly granted refugee status (BIP) with no financial stability, renting is often an impossibility, although in theory they are supposed to leave the shelters within three months. Despite financial aid from the government and from NGOs such as Caritas and the Red Cross, out of the 3,208 people living in asylum centres in 2019, 41,1 percent had already been granted status.
To enable people to leave these centres and actively integrate into society, Marianne Donven, Frédérique Buck and Pascal Clément joined forces and founded Open Home to connect local residents with refugees.