Refugees in Athens: Independent Lease Agreements
Following extensive research for good practices worldwide and mapping in the neighbourhoods of Athens, Curing the Limbo began to roll out its new model for affordable housing.
The idea is simple: As part of the project, the Municipality of Athens and Catholic Relief Services (CRS) developed a Social Rental Agency to address the hindrances refugees face in accessing affordable housing. Acting as an intermediary between prospective renters and property owners, the program offers both parties a range of support services and financial assurances, while creating appropriate linkages and sustainable tenancies. It was developed to create a space that builds trust and encourages active participation in city affairs.
Currently, 10 apartments are available for lease through the program’s platform, Athens Social Rentals, while 92 contracts have already been signed in Athens and the bordering municipalities.
What’s the goal of the program?
The goal of the program is for refugees to reach independence and become contributing members of their new society. Through the program refugees are provided with information to make decisions based on their housing needs and aspirations. Through rental subsidies, the city enables refugees access the private rental market and utilises the existing available housing stock for affordable housing. Rental subsidies amount decreases over time to support refugees’ transition to independence. A Social Rental Agency can emerge out of the pilot that provides housing services to other vulnerable groups.
What does Curing the Limbo housing model offer to the tenants?
Prospective Tenants have access to a pool of verified apartments, rental accommodation technical support, legal advice and rental subsidies, based on their continuous engagement in project activities. By participating in the housing program, refugees attend workshops to learn about their legal rights and responsibilities as tenants. Topics such as life in an Athenian apartment building as well as household budgeting are covered.
Finally, the program offers Syndeo (meaning connect), a neighbourhood integration action through which program participants are matched to locals, enabling refugees to volunteer, practice Greek, and get support for day-to-day activities, based on interests, needs and neighbourhood affiliation.