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'Airbnb for refugees' comes to Paris

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'Airbnb for refugees' comes to Paris
A man in Paris looks for a place to sleep after being evicted from a camp in central Paris. Photo: AFP
10:30 CEST+02:00
A pro-refugee organization in Paris has launched a new project that will allow French locals to open up their homes to refugees. And Parisians appear to be taking to it.
It can be hard enough for Parisians themselves to find a place to live the French capital.
 
But imagine how tough it would be for someone who's just been granted refugee status, can't speak French, and hasn't got their own network to help.
 
This is a problem that's being tackled by Singa, an organization which has spent the past two years helping refugees adapt to life in France.
 
The group has recently created a new "room-finding" programme called Calm (Comme a la maison), in the hopes of connecting refugees with volunteers who have space in their homes.
 
With the issue of refugees the hottest political issue of the moment, organizers have said that it's about time something was done to address the issue.
 
"Today there is a real awakening of civil society on this issue," co-founder Nathanaël Molle said. "We can't just stand by anymore."
 
Since launching a few days ago, around 200 people have already registered their interest in housing a refugee, the group's co-founder Molle told the AFP news agency.
 
It's inspired by a similar scheme that was set up in Berlin under the title Refugees Welcome and was dubbed "Airbnb for refugees" after the popular holiday home-sharing site.
 
The website of the new French version asks: Do you have a spare room in your apartment? Then host a refugee!
 
"We have all kinds of families among those registered: farmers, bankers, people who live in the countryside, others in towns," added Alice Barbe, another co-founder.
 
Barbe said that the move would allow refugees "to understand the society they are in, to meet French people, and to be able to relax during a period of stress and anxiety".
 
(Do you have a spare room in your apartment? Then host a refugee!)
 
So how does it all work?
 
Refugees can submit a form online that asks for some basic details, as well as where they'd like to live.
 
Volunteers can fill out another form detailing their available room, the home it is inside, and the area they live in, and even information about their hobbies. 
 
Singa then correlates the information to find suitable matches - and have said that the first housing will take place within the next two weeks.
 
And similarly to Airbnb, the homeowners are in charge of how long their guest can stay, which can be anything from a month to one year. The organization notes that the contract can be cut short if things don't work out.
 
 
 
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