Logo Fondation Josefa

Maison Josefa

Summary : The Josefa Foundation wants to promote ethical and sustainable "living together" through housing within Maison Josefa (Josefa House) according to the economic, social and societal opportunities offered by the migration of refugees and the hospitality of Belgium and Europe.

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Editorial committee

  • Date of proofreading :  20/10/2014 00:00
Opinion of the Committee : Should be generalized !
Solution(s) : Housing Social exclusion and isolation
Country :  Belgium
Stature of the programme :  Local
Participant :  Foundation
  • Beneficiaries :  Urban population, Immigrants, Companies
  • Domain :  Religion, Migrations, Housing, Cooperation

Copyright: Licence Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/ )
To reference a document published by RESOLIS : Granjon Gilbert , « Maison Josefa », **Journal RESOLIS** (2014)

Background to the programme

In Europe today, following the strengthening of laws on migration and multifaceted social crises, the situation for migrants is often precarious and cohabitation is sometimes difficult. The housing crisis and the significant number of people condemned to live "without a roof" is a sign of the worsening of the situation. By creating the Maison Josefa, a living space in the centre of Brussels, the Josefa Foundation wants, with other active forces and both social and economic partners, to rise to the challenge of welcoming, housing and supporting refugees, up to our standards, who have decided to live within Belgian society and more broadly as part of "European society".

The Josefa Foundation is convinced that a refugee brings great wealth and together, with each other, we can all become beneficiaries from the renewal of our point of view.

Objectives of the programme

By providing living space for refugees and others who aren't vulnerable through forced migration, the Maison Josefa wants to contribute to a double socio-economic integration which is ethical and sustainable, as well as the "complete development" of the person in all their human dimensions (physical, psychological and spiritual) while respecting the beliefs of each person. As its concerned with reciprocal hospitality, refugees will live together with other residents, according to a way of life that respects the dignity of each individual but also by sharing riches such as their respective vulnerabilities.

Maison Josefa will be a beautiful, sustainable and friendly place, located within a district in Brussels whose environment will promote the welcoming of beneficiaries, both direct and indirect, without harming the quality of life of the communities involved.

Implemented actions

- Development of the beautiful architectural craftsmanship of Masion Josefa (based on the good properties currently in the Josefa Foundation), respectful of environmental and energy standards;

- A recently accredited home for refugees, resettled persons and other residents unaffected by forced migration;

- Their accommodation within Maison Josefa (2500 m2 in the heart of Brussels);

- Their support, with partners as part of their socio-economic integration (training, employment, housing) and citizenship;

- Reflection on migration, housing and integration within the research branch of the Josefa Foundation.

Quantitative and qualitative results from the implemented actions

OBJECTIVE 1: Welcoming refugees (with other residents in Maison Josefa)

Expected results: 35 people received in the 1st year, 70 the next.

- Objectively verifiable indicator: Property capacity for 35 refugees and other residents.

GOAL 2: House these people

- Results: 5 refugees attest that their accommodation furthers their integration. From the second year, 2 people/month can say that housing is a factor in their integration.

- IOV: Establishment of a contract with each person housed.

GOAL 3: To support these refugees in their integration

- Results: 1 person out of 5 attest to the success of the support through their permanent integration. 5 people (the 1st year) are involved in the field of success. 24 the following years.

- IOV: Proof of the steps taken for 1 person out of 2. 1 beneficiary integrated out of 10 offers their services to Masion Josefa to support new people.

Original characteristics

The Josefa Foundation participates fully on the way to co-insertion between people resident in the Maison Josefa with a focus on complete development. But beyond the skills put to use, from the motivation of the project team to the transparency of the funds raised, the originality of the Josefa program is itself and its ethical foundation which manifests itself particularly in the involvement of all, beneficiaries as much as contributors, social and financial partners, to build peaceful "living together" by inviting us to change our view of each other.

Partnership(s) developed in the context of the programme

Active relationships with UNHCR, IOM, Caritas, JRS, Carmel SJ, Bank Degroof, BNPParibasFortis, and with experts (Jacques Defourny, Christian Lasserre, Ernst & Young, PwC, Russell Reynolds Associates ...). Agreements are in place with some of the aforementioned players including Carmel SJ and PwC. Effective relationships also with inter-cultural organisations (CBAI) and with academic centres (ULg, UCL, ULB). Finally, in the sense of serving the public interest, the Josefa Foundation builds partnerships with businesses who are sensitive to issues concerning the economic integration of refugees (Manpower, Electrabel, Delhaize ...).


Difficulties and/or obstacles encountered during the programme’s implementation :

- "Societal" eventualities that require a result almost "at any price" and as fast as possible: "the migrant refugee should be integrated even before arriving in the host country! ".

- Clearly physical and financial obstacles but also those of a "political" order: migration is usually someone else's business and seen as a "problem" rather than as an "opportunity." The difficulties are therefore above all else to do with communication, language and the preservation of the spirit, at the heart of Josefa's proposal.

Solutions used to overcome the difficulties and/or obstacles :

- Stay up to date with the reference document, the business model and plans developed, and other documents to maintain the added ethical value and the defence of the general interest expected by the Josefa Foundation.

- Focus on the governance organisations in place as spaces for dialogue to try to make Josefa's history better understood and make the necessary adjustments for the future.

Suggestions for future improvement :

The Josefa Foundation, however, is still looking to develop its institutional capabilities and to strengthen its operational branches. Consequently, support in terms of "proofreading" and support taking into account the tangible and "intangible" dimensions of Josefa would be welcome. Certainly, the Josefa Foundation benefits from the support of the network to which it belongs (Kauri, Belgian Network of Foundations) and external services (Saw-B) in social matters and economic solidarity, but it would be nice if Josefa could collect the advice of organisations who have a vision which isn't "vertical" (the stronger helping the weaker), but "inter-disciplinary" to the extent that it defends the Josefa Foundation: all migrants share, to varying degrees , vulnerabilities relative to their free or forced migration which are sources of opportunity and enrichment.

Summary of factors responsible for the programme’s success :

The desire to duplicate the Josefa proposal is a part of Josefa. That is why we are taking our time to build the Maison Josefa; each step is essential. That is without doubt already one of the keys to success. The generalisation of the project will come from the change of the outlook of organisations and individuals on migration and on migratory attitudes. Moreover, it is good to retain a form of vigilance, to re-asses when faced with the risk of acquiring certainties too fast, especially concerning refugees who have often "lost everything" (their families, their land, their property).

Ideas for basic or applied research topics, that could be useful to the programme :

The Josefa Foundation has entered into its statutes a research branch on issues of migration (the contribution of refugees in revamping the economy).

Moreover, we are beginning, with the assistance of a researcher, a reflection on the place of language in relationships disrupted by forced migration (identity, memory and opportunities with no active understanding of the language as a factor in the links between migrants).

Finally, besides the issue of measuring the impact (qualitative) of a process like the one carried out by Josefa, we have contacts to try to establish research on the economic issue that does (or doesn't) take into account the religious element that concerns a forced migrant.

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