BEIRUT: The protracted nature of the Syrian refugee crisis and the presence of a large number of refugees in Lebanon exerted considerable pressure on the housing market, making it more difficult for vulnerable Lebanese and Syrians to access affordable and adequate shelter.
To respond to these challenges, the "Occupancy Free of Charge" (OFC) modality was implemented to improve the capacity of local communities to host refugees and to provide minimum standard housing and tenure security for vulnerable Syrian refugees.
The Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs (IFI) at the American University of Beirut and Save the Children International (SCI) hosted the launch of their report titled “Hosting Refugees: The Impact of the Occupancy Free of Charge (OFC) Shelter Modality in Lebanon” on Monday at the American University of Beirut.
The OFC approach is ostensibly a rent-free shelter intervention, securing 12-months of occupancy for vulnerable refugee households in exchange for a conditional financial investment provided to Lebanese landlords to upgrade their properties.
The research was conducted among the OFC shelter modality in Lebanon, specifically in three geographic areas: Amayer (Akkar), Bar Elias (Bekaa), and Minie (North), and it's aimed to explore the impact of the shelter modality on the livelihoods of targeted Syrian refugees, the social cohesion in the areas where it was implemented, and the Lebanese housing market.
The research shows that most refugee households find it very difficult to cover the rent expenses that often range between $100 and $300 per housing unit depending on the area, and thus the OFC presence introduces important dimensions to the rental market by increasing the stock of affordable housing, providing a level of standards and raising tenure security by guaranteeing to house for a year with a fixed no cost.
According to the research’ findings, OFC builds a healthy relationship between landlords and refugees as it sets the terms of their interaction, and introduces an important dimension to the rental markets by raising tenure security.
The research advisory and review committee included Naser Yassin, director of research at the IFI-AUB, Mona Dawaz, Professor of Urban Studies and Planning at the AUB, Ali Chalk, Associate Professor in Applied Economics at AUB, and Rayan El Hajj, shelter and WASH Technical Adviser at SCI.
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