Sustainable and safe housing for people fleeing the war in Ukraine – What can the Safe Homes Initiative offer?
September 20th 2022, 10.00-12.00 am CET
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has so far led to an estimated 12 million people fleeing the war, of which over 5 million looked for protection in Europe - the largest displacement of people in Europe since World War II. All around Europe, private individuals, grassroots efforts, and solidarity movements have taken over state’s role in housing provision for Ukrainian refugees, particularly in the neighbouring countries. Member States have reported that the figures of displaced people accommodated by private hosts are between 20 per cent and up to 90 per cent, in some countries. The European Commission is calling it a “tectonic shift” and “an unprecedented show of solidarity, marking a new reality for EU reception and crisis management systems.” 
The Commission has rolled out various plans and actions to support Member States in meeting the needs of the millions of Ukrainians fleeing the war, including guidelines on access to housing and a new Safe Homes Initiative. As part of the Safe Homes Initiative, on the 6th of July a Guidance on Safe Homes was launched, with the goal to support the efforts of Member States, regional and local authorities and civil society in organising private housing initiatives for those in need of protection.
Remarkable citizens-led and other local initiatives have been paving the way to addressing the crisis and have shown unprecedented involvement and solidarity in receiving Ukrainian refugees. They created new types of partnerships and developed innovative tools such as matching and vetting platforms for Europeans who want to make their homes available for Ukrainian refugees. However, as the conflict in Ukraine is ongoing and people continue to need shelter in Europe, signs of fatigue and frustration appear in this type of approaches as they lack sustainability. Given the limitations of the private hosting, it is high time to reflect how the lessons learnt can help define sustainable solutions for future reception and housing needs. This event aims to bring together relevant stakeholders and create the space for these reflections.
Objective of the debate
In light of the European Commission´s launch of the Safe Homes Guidance, the Housing Solutions Platform, a joint initiative by Fondation Abbé Pierre, FEANTSA and Housing Europe, will organise an online debate with the aim of getting a better understanding of the initiative and how it actually responds to the housing needs of the refugees fleeing Ukraine. Experts from both European and grassroot levels together with representatives of the European Commission and the European Parliament will reflect on opportunities and risks linked to the provision of private accommodation and will discuss what further EU-level support is possible and needed for long term housing solutions, beyond private accommodation.
10:00 – 10:45 Panel 1 – Understanding the Safe Homes Initiative
10.00 – 10:05 Introduction and moderation - Simona Barbu, FEANTSA Policy Officer
10:05 – 10:15 Introduction from Member of European Parliament (TBC) – presentation on European asylum and migration policies, challenges and needs (focus on housing)
10:15 – 10:25 Presentation of Safe Homes Initiative - European Commission, DG HOME, Katerina Dimitrakopoulou, Head of Sector in the Legal Pathways and Integration unit
10.25 – 10:45 Good practices & lessons learnt: Developing innovative tools and cross sectoral partnerships to support Europeans who are making their homes available to refugees. Practices from Slovakia and Ireland: Slovakia - Lucia Pašková, ‘ktopomozeukrajine’ online initiative for housing refugees from Ukraine (TBC); Ireland - Ara Trianes Salguero Head of Services and Elizabeth Peña Director of Services, Peter McVerry Trust
10:45 – 10:55 Q&A
10:55 – 11:40 Panel 2 – debate on opportunities and risks linked to private accommodation and solutions for long term housing
Moderation: Freek Spinnewijn, Director of FEANTSA
Alice Pittini, Research Director, Housing Europe
Katarzyna Przybylska, Senior Advocacy Manager at Habitat for Humanity, Poland
Ave Lauren, Migration Policy Analyst, Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)
Pierre Verbeeren, President of Bruss’Help and Ukraine Coordinator for Brussels Government and the Cocom, Belgium
11:40 – 11:50 Q&A
11:50 - 12:00 Conclusions:
Sorcha Edwards, Secretary-General, Housing Europe