The Housing-Integration-Nexus: shaping exchange and innovation for migrants’ access to housing and social inclusion


Given the context of increased heterogeneous immigration to European cities, HOUSE-IN will discuss existing research findings with respect to a common understanding of a Housing-Integration-Nexus. The project will identify knowledge and implementation gaps towards integrative housing strategies in European cities, while the focus is put on the situation of migrants and refugees.

The pivotal question is: How can integration be achieved through inclusive housing strategies in urban neighbourhoods?

To respond to this question, HOUSE-IN will (1) use existing inter-disciplinary and trans-regional knowledge for identifying gaps at the housing-integration intersection, (2) co-create new paradigms of discourse and co-design innovative housing strategies based on a cross-case learning exchange and (3) foster new capacities for policy and action trough building a comprehensive methodology for transfer of knowledge. To reach this, HOUSE-IN sets up an Urban Living Lab process including two implementation cases and will bring together local stakeholders’ (municipality, housing companies, NGOs, etc.) perspectives for co-creating innovation for improvement.

The Nexus of Housing and Integration

Most European larger cities face considerable immigration, namely from areas within the national borders or from other countries. Apart from its political importance, immigration challenges practices of inclusion and participation in the urban society. We understand integration not only as a process of societal inclusion of newcomers or people with a migration history but all people living in the urban area. A socially sustainable perspective on integration includes both, agreed strategies and approaches as well as alliances of agency and ways of cooperation but also increased involvement of local stakeholders. Housing represents one of the fundamental prerequisites and foundation for structural and social integration into society, is the result of complex daily strategies of learning, navigating and governing the city and to different degrees shaped by choice, economic opportunities or administrative decisions.
Consequently, we refer to a Housing-Integration-Nexus. In this comprehensive understanding, housing includes on the one side the living space itself (flat, house, shelter) and on the other side, it relates to the capacity for social participation and care within the residential environment, including close-to-home open space, everyday neighbourly interaction and the proliferation of so-called “micro publics” of encounter. Housing practices at many places still include discrimination and colonial approaches towards migrant demanders and migrant self-support. The Housing-Integration-Nexus approach enables us to shift our focus onto the experiences of those who ‘have to integrate’, recognizing issues of social justice and concurrence dynamics of low-income groups and paying attention to migrants’ and refugees’ own assessments to housing policy. Yet housing remains an intractable challenge, due to global challenges of the current urban condition and its possible futures such as socio-spatial inequalities and segregation as well as challenges of participation and knowledge integration in a wider understanding.

Cases, implementation and learning: HOUSE IN’s Urban Living Lab process

We will focus on four case studies in Leipzig/ Germany, Vienna/Austria, Riga/Latvia and Helsingborg and Lund/Sweden (see Case Study Profiles below). The selection of case studies can be explained by a) the project consortium partners extensive research related to the local Housing-Integration-Nexus in these cities, b) their well-established contacts to local stakeholders and c) the multiple local scenarios of urban development (housing market organization, tenure structure, level of socio-spatial segregation) that still allow for transfer and scaling up of solutions for other European cities. These four case studies show different urban characteristics, stakeholder networks and governance approaches related to the Housing-Integration-Nexus and made different but also comparable experiences with the interrelations of housing and migration. In Leipzig, Vienna and Riga we find areas that can be conceived as arrival spaces in the above-mentioned understanding. In Helsingborg/Lund, we find different approaches of innovative housing solutions to address housing shortage and integration of refugees. Thus, we see much added value in comparing these cases in order to learn from both analogies and differences. With focusing on the Housing-Integration-Nexus, we apply a multi-scale approach that acknowledges the centrality of the local setting, still taking into account that the governance of housing is also shaped by regional and national governance and laws. HOUSE-IN will set up Urban Living Labs (ULL) in these case studies. The ULL approach can be understood as inter- and transdisciplinary action-oriented/applied research approach of iterative learning in order to co-create tailored solutions to real life problems. We intend to bring together the perspectives of scientists, policy-makers, local associations, stakeholders and activists and affected inhabitants in order to identify and jointly address gaps at the intersections of housing and social inclusion.

Scheme showing the House-In Project Approach and related Work packages
HOUSE-IN Living Lab approach

Project Activities

The project activities will take place in five work packages (WPs). WP1 is set up to coordinate and manage the project. It will be led by the project coordination and the WP leads and represents also the work package where cooperation within the (wider) consortium and communication towards external partners and the larger public will be organized.

WP2-WP5 have been set up to respond to the main objectives of the project and to deliver the results that are formulated as outcomes of the project. WP2 synthesizes the existing knowledge amongst consortium members to refine both the a) project objectives as well as b) the analytical framework for the cross-case analysis of the Housing-Integration-Nexus. WP3 starts a locally- embedded exchange within Urban Living Labs (ULLs). We will organize a series of local workshops in the case study cites, using various dialogue formats including world cafes, focus groups etc. Solutions for local challenges are being elaborated in a co-creative way. WP4 will co-create/co-design, test solutions in a real-life context and learn how feasible the proposed solutions are. The consortium will select two implementation case studies (ICS) from the four case studies. The main principles and approaches applied in the co-creation/co-design processes should be applicable to different European contexts. WP5 draws on the knowledge produced in earlier work packages to develop and move policy recommendations onto the governments’ and European policy agenda. In particular, it will (1) develop guidelines and recommendations for EU policy-making; (2) identify strategies to increase the applicability of knowledge into practice and approaches for scaling up local experience; (3) expand partners’ networks. HOUSE-IN objective (1) is being responded by WP2, objective (2) is being responded by WP3 and WP4, and objective (3) is being responded by WP5. In our project, the work is following or being based on the following principles and approaches:

1)     focus on Housing-Integration-Nexus, i.e. looking at housing as a way of integration

2)     Urban Living Lap processes in Vienna, Leipzig, Riga, Helsingborg/Lund.

3)     co-creation as the way to cooperate with practitioners to achieve integrative housing strategies and  tailored solutions with potential for learning and transfer.

HOUSE-IN work packages          Scheme of the House-In work programme


Schmidt, A.; Haase, A. (2023): „Ankommen“ und Wohnen von Migrant*innen in europäischen Städten: Einblicke in den transdisziplinären Austausch innerhalb des Projekts HOUSE-IN und die Fallstudie Leipzig. PoWiNE, Bd. 3 (2023): Slavici, Melanie (Hrsg.): Wohnen & Nachhaltigkeit: Politikwissenschaftliche Perspektiven

Astolfo, Giovanna; Allsopp, Harriet; Duszczyk, Maciej; Franz, Yvonne; Haase, Annegret; Laksevics, Karlis; Nasya, Bahanur; Raubisko, Ieva; Reeger, Ursula; Schmidt, Anika (2022): Now and then. Precariousness, double standards and racism in housing refugees. University College London Blog, 20th June 2022.

Haase, Annegret; Allsopp, Harriet; Elina, Ulrika; Franz, Yvonne; Lazarenko, Valeria; Nasya, Bahanur; Raubisko, Ieva; Reeger, Ursula; Saadeh, Bana; Schmidt, Anika (2023): Refugee migration from Ukraine to other parts of Europe – challenges with regard to the housing-integration intersection at the city level. Radical Housing Journal Issue 4.2 / Updates.

Polyak, Levente; Nasya, Bahanur (2022): Social housing with self-determination: Wiener Wohnen’s quest to involve tenants in decision-making. Cooperative City Magazine, 8.6.2022.

Reeger, Ursula; Franz, Yvonne (2021): Erschwinglicher Wohnraum für Viele, aber nicht für alle. Zuwanderung und der Wiener Wohnungsmarkt. ISR-Bulletin 6/2021. DOI 10.1553/isr-bulletin21-06.

Saadeh, Bana; Nasya, Bahanur (2022): Inclusion Potentials of Co-Housing – A look at OASE.inklusiv. Cooperative City Magazine, 12.12.2022.

Stevens, Ulrika; Nasya, Bahanur (2023): Vienna’s Wohnpartner: Overcoming conflicts in social housing. Cooperative City Magazine, 10.1.2023.

Documentation of project activities

short report/press information "HOUSE-IN Exchange. Connecting racism and discrimination in refugee housing and home-making", 27th September 2022.

Documentation of the HOUSE-IN Cross-Country Online Exchange: How to cope with future challenges. Learning with Ukraine (September 28, 2022)

Documentation of the HOUSE-IN Cross-Country Online Exchange: Connecting racism and discrimination in refugee housing and home-making (September 20, 2022)

Short Documentation of the Final Meeting in Leipzig (November 9-11, 2022)

Case Study Profiles

Case Study Profile Vienna

Case Study Profile Leipzig

Case Study Profile Riga

Case Study Profile Helsingborg

Case Study Profile Lund