Startblok, self-managed housing for local youth and young refugees

Publications Bank of innovations

Startblok, self-managed housing for local youth and young refugees

Woonstichting De Key, Ajuntament d’Amsterdam, Socius Wonen

An innovative model that addresses the housing needs of both young people and refugees. It promotes the integration of young people from different backgrounds who have the common goal of an affordable home. It offers them housing at an affordable price and with a secure rent, which allows young people, both locals and refugees, not to be expelled from the city and to be able to access a job or continue their studies.

Startblok Riekerhaven is aimed at Dutch people and refugees between 18 and 28 years of age who want to get actively involved socially. For a much lower price than the market price, Startblok offers self-contained temporary housing –with a kitchen, a bathroom and a toilet– which is variable in size –around 20 m²– and common areas for each residential group, equipped with a kitchen and a balcony. This space allows for the sharing of life experiences and knowledge, thus contributing to the creation of a community respectful of diversity and reinforcing social cohesion. Residents are selected on the basis of their vulnerability and willingness to be involved in the social and cultural aspects of the project and to commit themselves as a long-term member of the community. The maximum tenancy is five years and, when someone moves on, they are replaced by a new resident of a similar profile –gender, age and educational level– to maintain the balance and diversity of the project.

At Startblok, equal and respectful treatment of all residents is key, as well as the coexistence of very different cultures, languages, customs and ways of doing things. The community functions through the self-management and self-organisation of the residents themselves, with spaces to elaborate and implement their initiatives, both for the formation of community and social cohesion and for the day-to-day maintenance of the model, such as the selection of new tenants and the management of applications. It is this way that a comfortable and pleasant living environment is created, where everyone feels welcome, valued and supported; in short, a home. This housing model thus makes it easier for refugees –who have just arrived in a new country– to build friendships and contacts and to rebuild their lives. It is thus an innovative example of how to address the needs of refugees in a positive way, while providing much-needed affordable housing for young people.