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Lessons from the Safe Homes programme: Hosting as an option to accommodate people who have lost their homes

The escalation of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine in February 2022 has provoked a wave of solidarity across Europe as thousands of people have opened their homes or offered vacant properties to welcome people displaced from Ukraine.  

Private hosting of people in need of housing is not entirely new in Europe. Networks of solidarity  have long existed connecting locals with people in need, often supported by civil society actors. Yet, 2022 was the first time that governments in Europe resorted to private individuals to host displaced populations on such a large scale. Supported by the European Commission's Asylum Migration and Integration Fund, the Safe Homes programme helped scaling-up private hosting capacities of National Red Cross Societies  and offered a platform for peer-discussion and collection of lessons to inform future policies regarding the reception and integration of newcomers. Safe Homes was implemented by nine National Red Cross Societies who, together with partner organisations, stood ready to support hosts and guests materially and emotionally.  

This report, leveraging the Red Cross expertise and first-hand experience, reflects on the opportunities and limits of using hosting as a tool to accommodate people who have lost their homes. It outlines 15 key lessons for authorities to ensure the safety, dignity and well-being of hosts and guests. The lessons elaborate on some vital aspects of the long-term preparedness that public authorities should put in place to make hosting a potential and positive option for the future. 

The Safe Homes programme showcases the power of community-based solutions and the benefits of having a collective commitment to welcome and support people in need. The Red Cross calls for continued support and advocacy for displaced individuals globally. The lessons learned must now be applied universally, inspiring authorities to strengthen reception and integration systems for people in need, irrespective of their ethnicity or country of origin. 

Read the full report and support our ongoing efforts to provide safe homes for all displaced people. 

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