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“Housing after displacement”
Integration of refugees and Roma in urban housing markets and neighborhoods

March 28 2019 | University of Applied Sciences Erfurt


Displacement, immigration, and migration are part of the current transformations of urban neighborhoods. On the housing market, EU immigrants, e.g. Roma, and refugees often compete with other socio-economically weaker population groups for affordable housing that is already too scarce. In addition to the housing policy conditions, it is above all the precarious income situation, insufficient literacy, lack of German language skills and stigmatization that make access to the housing market particularly difficult for especially disadvantaged groups (above all refugees and Roma). Increased immigration, especially since 2015, therefore presents cities and municipalities with the challenge of cooperating with the housing industry to develop and implement sustainable housing concepts and measures to promote neighborhoods and integration into the community. Refugees and disadvantaged EU immigrants need open-minded landlords and urban development policies that open up opportunities for social participation through access to housing. Housing and its environment (the neighborhood and city) are the starting points from which those affected can face other challenges of the integration process, e.g. language acquisition, work, education, or social networks.

The symposium presented research results from two innovative case studies,  "Probewohnen" in Lübeck and the project "Bunte 111" in Berlin, which were examined in detail within the BMBF project "StraInWo - Strategies and instruments for the integration of particularly disadvantaged population groups in the housing market and neighborhood". With the participation of actors and partners from both case studies, the conference offered the opportunity to exchange and further develop results, open research questions, concrete practical examples, and action strategies with interested parties from research and practice.

In addition to the presentation of the main research results, four forums offered the opportunity to discuss specific problems, solution strategies and continuation perspectives on the following topics based on keynote speeches:

Forum 1: Interaction, tolerance, and conflict: Neighborhoods as places of integration?
In this forum, participants discussed issues regarding the promotion of socio-cultural diversity by various neighborhood actors and strategies for promoting dedicated meeting places, in addition to identifying potential lines of conflict in urban neighborhoods.

Forum 2: Disadvantage and discrimination on the housing market: Which patterns are recognizable and how can they be avoided?
The focus of this forum was the question of discrimination against disadvantaged population groups on the housing market. The participants discussed how this manifests itself and which processes and actors generate discriminatory practices. As a result, the forum elaborated action recommendations for municipalities, housing companies and civil society that can contribute to supporting integration on the housing market.

Forum 3: Economic perspectives: What is the cost of (dis)integration on the housing market?
The question of the economic viability of integration measures and the costs of social non-integration for municipalities and housing companies was the focus of discussion in this forum. In addition, the participants discussed the social and political effects that integration-promoting (housing) projects for refugees and Roma can have for cities and municipal housing companies.

Forum 4: Reflecting and consolidating qualities: Cultural and refugee-sensitive transformation through network and project work?
This forum dealt with the potentials for evaluating network and project work as well as the requirements needed for reflection. Inhibiting factors regarding the scope of action of various actors were a particular focus of the discussion in this forum. Finally, strategies for the continuation of a culturally and refugee-sensitive transformation of urban neighborhoods through networking and project work were identified.

Key success factors: Integration of refugees and Roma in urban housing markets
At the end of the symposium, participants were able to interactively participate in an online survey using Mentimeter (see image). The voting was anonymous and via a web-enabled device. During the symposium, the participants could independently indicate three terms that were most important to them for the "integration of refugees and Roma into urban housing markets and neighborhoods" to succeed. The terms mentioned were projected on a screen during the voting, with the most frequently mentioned terms appearing largest in the center of the image. The most important terms to the participants were: interaction, tolerance, political will, empathy, good mentoring, and “a matter for the boss”.

Key success factors for the integrations of refugees and Roma in urban housing markets (Source: ISP 2019)

The main results of the research project on which the conference was based - enriched by numerous expert contributions from external authors - are documented in the following publication:
Breckner, Ingrid, Sinning, Heidi (Hrsg.) 2021: Wohnen nach der Flucht. Integration von Geflüchteten und Roma in städtische Wohnungsmärkte und Quartiere, VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, Wiesbaden.  learn more about this publication

Cooperation Partners

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Contact info

ISP - Institute for Urban Research, Planning and Communication of the Erfurt University of Applied Sciences:

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Heidi Sinning, Project Management

M.Sc. Jenny Kunhardt, Research Collaboration

Postal adress:
PO box45 01 55
99051 Erfurt

Visitor adress:
Altonaer Straße 25
99085 Erfurt
Haus 12, Raum 12.1.12


Department of Urban and Regional Sociology Department, HCU Hamburg:

Prof. Dr. Ingrid Breckner, Project Management

Dipl.-Geogr. Constanze Engelbrecht, Research Collaboration

Visitor adress:
Überseeallee 16
20457 Hamburg
Tel. 040 42827-4582

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