As Senior Fellow Romane Rozencwajg became friends with many newly arrived people in France and saw that, as a result of the state not providing enough resources, newcomers were ending up on the streets. Knowing that their living situations were unstable and sometimes catastrophic convinced Romane, along with some friends, that it was up to them to create the society in which they wanted to live in.
Solidary Communes (Colocations Solidaires) hopes to show people that you can take matters into your own hands and inspire them to participate.
Romane has been volunteering in an student-led organization that aimed to create social ties between newly arrived asylum seekers and refugees and locals. To do that, they organized activities where everybody could meet and do things together, foster friendships and build a social network. However, organization reached a point where they realized it was not possible for people to engage in social relationships if they did not have housing security on the long term.
Therefore, they created a new program that aims at contacting students living in shared houses and people living in communes, asking if they have an available room and if they are ready to pay a little bit more rent. The goal is to offer the room to an asylum seeker/refugee. If they can, the individual pays a part of the rent, and the organization meets the rest of the rent. It offers long-term solutions to people who need it to deal with their administrative situation, find a job, etc.
Romane worked through the organization Terre d’Ancrages to make his Action Project possible.
Through this project, Romane met people from different cultural backgrounds and discussed issues such as the social construction of gender and their stereotypically attached roles through a multicultural perspectives. He explained that the discussions were very enriching because they were respectful on both sides and yet touched on very critical topics. Being able to do things together (go on bike ride adventures, get lost, having to find a solution to get back) really made Romane forget about the differences between newcomers and the French that the media always highlight.
Romane asserted that, “When you share everyday experiences, the only thing that matters is the common “humanity” and you start to only see your common identities.”
In the future Romane hopes to expand, open more flats, get more people involved, find more money and one day open an ecological and solidarity house. Learn more about Terre d’Ancrages and how to promote a united France where newcomers are welcomed and can engage in the city, here.