Life asbl's "WG Projet" took off in 2020. For most residents, however, this form of housing is an involuntary choice, even if living together works well in most cases. The association responsible for the project wants to create more affordable living space in this way. Occasionally, however, there are hurdles in the process.
Anne-Cécile knows what it's like to live in a shared apartment. Many years ago, she experienced it in Belgium. "At the time, it was a conscious choice. I like that lifestyle." Today, it is her life circumstances that were instrumental in the 39-year-old Belgian sharing a house near the German border with three roommates. About two years ago, her marriage fell apart. After a burnout several years earlier, she had given up her job and since then had been taking care of her daughter, who is now eight years old. Anne-Cécile initially started looking for an apartment. But without a permanent employment contract, with a daughter in alternating care, a dog and given the real estate prices, finding a living space was a matter of impossibility. "My back was against the wall", she says. But then one day she hears about Life asbl's "WG Projet" (WG: shorthand for "Wohngemeinschaft" in German, meaning "living community") and signs up. For a year now, she has been living with tenants from Niger, the Ivory Coast and Brazil. She pays €440 for rent including utilities.
Anne-Cécile shares the involuntary flat-sharing experience with Abdullah, even though their lives are very different. The 28-year-old refugee from Yemen has been in Luxembourg for almost two years. It took four months for his asylum application to be accepted. But finding work and a place to live as a refugee is not easy. Around half of the residents in asylum structures have this status and would actually have to leave the facility. Abdullah is lucky. The trained accountant finds work in the gardening industry. Then, through a social worker, he found out about the non-profit association. Almost a year ago, he moved into a large house in the community of Grosbous, which he now shares with six other residents. It is an international community. "I get out from the hell of ONA refugees foyer to the heaven of Life WG Project asbl", Abdullah sums up his experience. In the foyer, he had to share a room with five people. In return, he was asked to pay a contribution of €650 a month after he started earning an income. The situation was tense and stressful. This was not helped by the fact that his then roommates were still waiting for their asylum decisions or had their applications rejected. In this new place, Abdullah pays €100 less, including utilities.
Housing solutions for almost 100 people
The volunteers involved in Life asbl have heard many stories like this. It was not until 2020 that the non-profit association began to set up flat shares in a more dedicated way. In January of the previous year, the association made an appeal to homeowners at a press conference in Soleuvre. The response completely exceeded the expectations of the small association. "We were pleasantly surprised", recalls Gary Diderich. "In total, there are 30 actors doing 'gestion locative sociale'. We thought that owners who wanted to do something social would actually already be covered."
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Flat share as a makeshift solution
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