Critical call for Christian landlords to welcome refugees and asylum seekers

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A UK charity is making an urgent call for Christian landlords to welcome refugees and people seeking asylum, thousands of whom are facing homelessness and destitution as councils struggle to meet the increasing demand for housing. 

A lack of social housing and the competitive and complex nature of the private rental market is preventing Afghans, Ukrainians, and other migrant groups from accessing housing, leaving many in halfway hotels. 3,000 people face homelessness and destitution because of their immigration status and this figure is expected to rise this year as over 50,000 people who came to the UK under the Homes For Ukraine scheme have now reached the end of their six-month sponsorship period.

Christian charity Welcome Churches has set up a new initiative, Welcome Homes, to find hosts who can provide people with safe and stable homes. The initiative consists of two lines of support: connecting refugees with hosts for short-term accommodation in their homes and connecting refugees with socially minded landlords to provide long-term and affordable housing solutions.

Emily Shepherd, Joint CEO for Welcome Churches said, “Many of these people have come to the UK to escape war or terror – and now they are facing homelessness in a country where they should be safe. They desperately need a movement of compassionate landlords and hosts who are willing to rent to refugees.

“Throughout the Bible it is made clear that we should show hospitality and compassion to those in need. So whether you’ve got a spare room, or property to let, please get in touch. You could make a huge difference and turn around the situation for someone who has suffered incredible uncertainty and upheaval.”

Once granted refugee status by the UK government, refugees have 28 days to handle an impossible number of tasks, including finding a new home. It can take at least six weeks for refugees to receive the support they are entitled to, meaning they are unlikely to find somewhere to live in time.

Welcome Homes will outline how Christian landlords and hosts can help at a dedicated launch webinar on Tuesday 31st January, where anyone interested is invited to come and hear more.

In 2022, Debbie Duncan and her husband agreed to host a Ukrainian family of seven in their home. She says “Seven people coming to live with us was a little daunting, but the village we lived in was so supportive, always asking me what they needed, and the reality was, they did need so much more than expected. The family had about 20 minutes to pack and flee their apartment in Kyiv. They didn’t have hairdryers or make-up or even pyjamas. 

“We did have to think about how they would affect our family life, so it was important that we laid down some ground rules with them in the beginning, and reassessed these regularly as some of the challenges didn’t show until later on. But even so, for me, it has been such an extraordinary time of learning, trusting God and helping people in a situation I can’t even imagine.”

The lack of long-term housing solutions for refugees has significantly impacted the ability of Afghan refugees to settle in the UK. More than a year after the evacuation of Kabul, approximately 10,000 Afghans remain in ‘bridging hotels’ across the UK, yet to be resettled into permanent housing. Meanwhile, many Ukrainians reaching the end of the initial six months of the Homes for Ukraine scheme need new short-term hosting placements, while others require more independent and permanent housing solutions.

For more information on how to get involved, or to join the Welcome Homes webinar on Tuesday 31st January go to welcome-homes.org