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Research conducted on the housing conditions of refugees in Poland leads to the following conclusions: foreigners living in accommodation centers are subjected to spatial segregation, making it challenging for them to learn the Polish language, establish contacts with local communities, and reduces their chances in the local labor market (these places are often far away from cities and settlements, sometimes located in open fields or forests with poor communication). Renting a flat on one's own is frequently an extremely difficult task (the decision to leave the center requires moving out within 30 days), especially for families with many children. They encounter discrimination already at the stage of a telephone conversation with a potential landlord (due to the language barrier of the parents, it is the children who are forced to make the calls and negotiate the details of the rent), which discourages them from further searching but also increases the risk of homelessness.

Refugees mostly live in sub-standard conditions. Their dwellings are moldy, damp, under-equipped with basic furniture, overcrowded, in need of repairs, and sometimes general renovation. Meanwhile, the provision of decent housing facilitates integration into local communities and accelerates coping with post-traumatic stress disorder.

I encountered the aforementioned problems as a photographer and activist. I was engaged in retrofitting refugee housing, transportation, etc., but it was only during the pandemic that I realized how fortunate I was to have a safe place—a home—where I could retreat, dedicate myself to studying or working remotely without being exposed to the virus. Centers for foreigners did not offer such security.

I became involved in the process of finding accommodation for first two, and then one family, accompanying them throughout. In collaboration with the eldest daughter of the M. family, we interviewed potential landlords, documented living conditions in the center, the move, and the new flat. Alija is a co-author of the materials presented here.

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