Welcome Islands

Welcome Islands: Solidarity with homeless refugees in Athens

For over a decade, the “Infomobile” has been touring to different places Greece where many migrants and refugees live or meet to share information on the legal procedures of asylum and family reunification and social rights.

The reception system for refugees in Greece has expanded only in the last four years since the mass arrivals in 2015/2016. Up to that point state shelters were limited to less than 2.000 places. Many refugees were homeless.

By the end of 2020, about 30.000 asylum seekers and beneficiaries of international protection live in refugee camps all over the country and another 20.000 live in ESTIA II accommodation, which are flats for vulnerable populations. Around 121.000 refugees are currently situated in Greece.

Yet, the state shelter system still excludes specific groups. Specifically, protection seekers arriving through the landborder are not transferred to state shelters upon arrival and remain often homeless for many months. Beneficiaries of international protection often cannot surpass the bureaucratic obstacles in order to enter the HELIOS integration program, which offers rent subsidies for six months or in order to get the social welfare for people unemployed (KEA). They have to leave state shelter one month upon receiving their asylum status and remain at the same without the Cash Card (social welfare benefits for asylum seekers).

The solidarity flats today are aimed to cover the housing needs of a small number of protection seekers that belong to these groups. We perceive our solidarity flats as a temporary support functioning as a bridge in emergency situations. We aim to support the residents in order that they can establish their lives independently from any help. This is a huge task, having in mind the high unemployment rates in Greece, the lack of a functioning integration system for all and times of pandemic.

We prioritise to fund the housing of highly vulnerable persons/families such as single mothers and families with kids, but look to create a small community of residents that can also support each other. We also do not want to exclude single men form our support offer, a group that is mostly not considered vulnerable and thus has extreme difficulties to enter state housing if they have been in Greece for a long period and have never been able to enter the reception system.

Who receives support for housing?

  • Refugees who desperately need temporary accommodation, i.e. pregnant women and mothers with newborns, single women in danger of exploitation and violence, chronically sick and victims of violence with severe psychological trauma.
  • Beneficiaries of international protection who at the time being cannot access HELIOS or KEA and are in emergency situations.
  • Refugees who arrived from the land border, applied for asylum and are waiting to be reunited with relatives in other European countries. A process which takes time and during which there is no accommodation provided.
  • Single men excluded from state shelter. 

Who looks after the people supported:

  • People who have a background of migration themselves and speak the language of the residents.
  • People who are experienced in accessing social and educational rights, medical and psychological needs and the asylum/integration procedure.

Current monthly costs of each flat:

Flat I: Two residents

200 Euros rent
50 Euros repairs and purchases                                                                            100 Euro running costs (electricity, water, building costs, internet)

Flat II: Four residents (including two kids)

250 Euros rent
100 Euros repairs and purchases                                                                            150 Euro running costs (electricity, water, building costs, internet)

Flat III: 11 residents (including 7 children)

How can these homes for the people be sustained?

Two of the flats are funded by individual donations. We receive small regular donations of 10 Euro per month and sometimes single donations. Flat III is funded for one year by Help Refugees.

Donate to us so that you become part of a network which says
‘welcome’ and helps people to have their own home. Once a year, you will receive a report on the housing support. We can provide you with a donation certificate for your taxes.

How does a regular support work?

You set up an automatic payment of 10 Euros per month (or more, if you wish) to the following account:
[Account details]

Account Name: Wohnschiffprojekt Altona e.V.
Account Number: 1257122737
Reference: Willkommensinsel

Bank Name: Hamburger Sparkasse
German Bank Code: 200 505 50

For international transfers:
IBAN: DE06 2005 0550 1257 1227 37

In order for us to keep track of the payments, and for you to get a receipt and receive the annual report, please send an email to the following address: infomobile.w2eu@gmail.com

For one, two and many solidarity homes!