RottenburgNeustart im Team” – Private refugee sponsorship
What is inspiring?
Cities involved in the Solidarity Cities movement have different solutions to the fact that municipalities still don’t have a say in (additional) refugee intakes yet. Among its other strategies, Rottenburg has committed to a programme of private refugee sponsorship. In doing so, it also sent out a clear political signal that has kept the debate around the municipal intake of refugees in the foreground.
How is it functioning?
In October 2020, the City of Rottenburg called on its citizens to participate in the project “Neustart im Team” (“NesT”). The project entails volunteers from civil society forming mentor groups of at least five people to accompany a refugee or a refugee family through the process of arrival and inclusion over a period of two years. Before the refugees’ arrival, this group is responsible for finding an apartment rented out in accordance with local social housing rates. The group pays in advance – out of their own pocket – into a separate bank account, covering the rent (excluding utilities) for two years. In addition, the group also supports the refugees in dealing with the authorities. These “nest” refugees do not have to apply for asylum in Germany, but are taken in under the so-called “refugee resettlement” program.
Who initiated the project? How?
“Neustart im Team” (“NesT”) is a pilot project launched in 2019 by the German Federal Interior Ministry and the UN refugee agency UNHCR. Unlike private refugee sponsorship schemes, where the burden of all the costs associated with reception falls on the individual, so-called “refugee guarantors”, the “NesT” participants know from the beginning exactly how much they must contribute financially. The state bears the remaining costs that refugee reception involves, especially social benefits and insurance. The City of Rottenburg and the district of Tübingen support the volunteers in various ways. The municipality, for example, helps with the search for housing, while the district supports volunteers as part of the “integration management” programme. The volunteers are refugee social workers paid by the state of Baden-Württemberg. In times of financial hardship, NesT sponsors have the possibility to apply for grants.