Integration through Collaborative Housing? Dutch Starters and Refugees Forming Self-Managing Communities in Amsterdam

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Since 2015, Europe has experienced an unprecedented influx of people fleeing countries facing political turmoil. Upon receiving asylum status, refugees in the Netherlands are currently regionally dispersed and individually housed in public housing. The municipality of Amsterdam has recently adopted an alternative approach, whereby young adult refugees and Dutch young adults are brought together in collaborative housing (Czischke, 2018). This article presents findings from a case study of the pilot project, launched in 2016, which houses over 500 young adults, half refugees and half Dutch together in temporary dwellings. The goal is to provide refugees with social and cultural tools to integrate in the host society by interacting with their peers through collective self-organisation. Compared with more traditional forms of housing refugees, integration through collaborative housing is expected to deliver results. Our study aims to examine this assumption by looking at the daily reality of collaboration and self-organisation amongst tenants in this pilot project, and interrogates how this approach may help the integration process. The analytical framework draws on Ager and Strang’s (2008) core domains of integration, which emphasises the role of social connections in the integration process. An ethnographic research design was adopted, including interviews and participant observation as data collection techniques. Preliminary findings indicate the gradual formation of social connections such as social bonds, social bridges and social links. Ultimately, we expect findings to inform better policies and practices in the field of housing and urban planning that help the integration of young refugees in European societies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)156-165
JournalUrban Planning
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Amsterdam
  • collaborative housing
  • housing policy
  • refugee integration
  • self-organisation


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