Ongoing initiatives and projects

Welcome home
acommodation for refugee families

The integration and housing program, Welcome Home, was launched in 2017 by the Ocalenie Foundation in response to the primary challenges faced by people with refugee experience in Poland. These challenges include the threat of homelessness and poverty, a lack of Polish language skills, and difficulties in navigating various matters in state institutions, clinics, etc.

The program’s main goal is to support refugee families in achieving self-sufficiency, enabling them not to require ongoing assistance after participating in the program. Participants develop skills and competencies that allow them to navigate different situations in Poland independently, situations that previously required support. We aim for people involved in the Welcome Home program to regain the independence they had in their home countries.

In 2023, the Welcome Home program supported 12 families – a total of 66 people, including 42 children. More families will join the program after the recruitment process. For more information about the families and their needs, please visit www.witajwdomu.org.pl.

Housing issues for refugees

Every fourth person with refugee experience in Poland faces the threat of homelessness. The barriers to finding housing include not just rental prices but also landlord biases and discrimination. Individuals with refugee experience are often compelled to rent semi-ruined apartments that lack basic amenities like hot water or heating, all at prices that far exceed the standard for such housing conditions.

Seven years ago, my husband, my three children and I had to leave our native Dagestan. Had we stayed there, our husband would most likely not be with us today. Today we are refugees in Poland and it is not easy for us. I have problems with walking, I have undergone several corrective surgeries and I am waiting for the next one. The responsibility of supporting our household has fallen entirely on my husband’s shoulders.
No one in Warsaw wanted to rent us an apartment. That is why we had to settle in the outskirts of the city, in a damp annex without heating. There was no bathroom in the building, and it was up to my husband to  build one. We lacked hot water and so I had to heat water on the stove so that the children could bathe. I couldn’t keep food on the shelves because everything molded due to the dampness. I was afraid that my children would start to get sick from the conditions. I was very afraid of the next winter.
Ayna from Dagestan

Recent surveys conducted by the Institute of Public Affairs, Association for Legal Intervention, and Ocalenie Foundation, among others, have revealed that refugees face the following housing issues, which need to be addressed:

  • living in poor conditions, including in unheated, damp, moldy premises requiring basic repairs,
  • the negative impact of housing conditions on health, family life, and social integration,
  • overcrowded housing,
  • renting without a written contract,
  • difficulties finding housing due to discrimination,
  • overcharging of rents and other fees, as well as other abuses by owners or housing managers (including unjustified and illegal eviction),
  • inability to cover housing maintenance costs (including heating), leading to debt,
  • lack of basic life stability – living in constant uncertainty and fear of losing a roof over one’s head,
  • the need for frequent moves,
  • particularly difficult situations for large families and single parents.

A safe and stable roof over one’s head is fundamental to building a life in a new country. Without it, successful integration, recovery from trauma, and the process of achieving full independence become highly challenging.

Welcome Home – a solution to problems

The Welcome Home program has several components that, combined with the readiness of participating families, support the start of a new life in Poland.

All forms of assistance are free and available to families participating in the program, including:

  • housing support, provided in the form of rental subsidies,
  • integration support from an integration specialist, including help with everyday difficulties and contact with institutions,
  • professional assistance, including psychological short-term and long-term psychotherapy, and legal aid,
  • Polish language courses,
  • vocational activation, including career advisor assistance and support in contacts with employers,
  • economic and social education (including household budget planning).

Thanks to comprehensive support, families covered by the program are provided with stable conditions, enabling them to gradually integrate and achieve the independence necessary to live in Poland.

Thanks to help from the Ocalenie Foundation team, we have recently been able to move into a normal home. At last, each of my children have their own bed. They also have a desk to do their homework on for the first time in their lives. Now that we have a safe and warm home we can focus on building a new life in Poland.
Ayna from Dagestan

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