Charles Berrang - Housing as a gateway to social inclusion
Tuesday 2 March 2021
The LogIS service (Housing for Social Inclusion) is an important step in the itinerary of refugees accompanied by Caritas Luxembourg. Indeed, through the provision of a social housing, refugees are supported to take their place in our society. Interview with Charles Berrang who leads this service.
HOW WAS THE HOUSING SERVICE BORN?
Caritas Luxembourg has had a "Housing" unit for refugees and migrants for more than 20 years. In 2017, after the 2015 migration crisis, Caritas Luxembourg launched, with the support of the Oeuvre Nationale de Secours Grande-Duchesse Charlotte, the project "Neien Ufank". This project aimed not only at providing housing, but also at the social follow-up and integration of refugees in our society. As the financing of the project came to an end, and in view of the needs identified, it was decided to create, with the support of the Ministry of Family, Integration and the Greater Region, the "LogIS" service bringing together all the actions of the two entities under the same concept. In addition, we are also working closely with the "Housing" service for homeless people of Caritas Luxembourg.
WHAT IS YOUR MISSION?
Our mission is not limited to rental management alone, but includes social support for the beneficiaries. Most of the refugees in our shelters have very little idea of the constraints of housing in Luxembourg and the realities of the Luxembourg real estate market. Support is put in place to help them settle in, find their bearings, integrate into local life, increase their employability on the labour market, etc. We have also added workshops and coaching on the reality of the Luxembourg housing market and how to find a home on the private market. Currently, for people still living in shelters, a whole awareness-raising and training programme is being finalised to prepare them as early as possible for the realities of the country, even before they enter housing.
WHAT IS THE MAIN CHALLENGE FACING HOUSING?
The challenge today is less about finding new social housing than about having enough turnover in the housing we already have. If turnover increases, it means that the people we support in our social housing are able to find housing on the private real estate market and that we have done a good job. Of course, we are still looking for property owners who are interested in renting their property to us at a social price, but we must not forget that the social support we offer requires a significant investment of time and staff. At present, we are following more than 430 people in our 150 homes. The social workers are working at full capacity. Fortunately, we can count on many volunteers who help us in the accompaniment of people. They support, for example, our beneficiaries in their search for a job or help with homework for the children. Last year, around 30 households managed to find a home. The vacant units are then available for people in our shelters. Of course, we also have beneficiaries from whom we cannot ask to make such integration efforts in three years. These are older or particularly vulnerable people. The aim in these cases is rather to stabilise their situation.
WHAT MOTIVATES YOU IN WHAT YOU DO?
It is the conviction to do something very useful. I am happy every time one of our beneficiaries finds work and housing on the private market. I am also happy to see some of our property owners so satisfied with our beneficiaries that they express the wish to keep them beyond three years and to sign a lease directly with them for longer periods.