Project HOME, short for Home of Mobile Europeans, initiated by a consortium of six organizations coordinated by housing platform HousingAnywhere and executed with the help of partners and stakeholders, will work on boosting international mobility by defining and implementing quality standards for international student and trainee housing, while also creating a shared data information system. The official launch of HOME was at the EAIE 2019, Europe's largest international higher education conference, which took place from 24 to 27 September in Helsinki, Finland.
Finding reliable and safe accommodation is the main obstacle to international mobility for students, as confirmed by the HousErasmus+ Report. The latest European Commission Erasmus+ quality survey also illustrates how satisfaction with support in finding accommodation has undergone a substantial decrease (now at 65%, which is -12% compared to the previous survey). With the European Commission planning on doubling the budget and tripling the volumes of international mobility by 2027, there is now, more than ever, a need for developing the HousErasmus+ learnings into a concrete plan of action. Such an answer must be forward-looking and in line with the digital integration framework of student mobility services, as set by Erasmus Without Paper, the European Student Card and the Erasmus+ App.
Project HOME tackles one of the core obstacles to mobility: the lack of accessible and affordable accommodation. To do so, HOME will first define a set of quality labels in terms of security and accessibility, international student friendliness and an indication of regional affordability, with a seal of official EU recognition. Secondly, HOME will develop a digitalized infrastructure that integrates the search for accommodation into a digital and easily accessible flow embedded in the existing and future European mobility frameworks (e.g., Erasmus+ without Papers, European Student Card and the Erasmus+ App). At the same time, educational resources are made accessible to everyone, along with a toolkit to spread and replicate the learnings at the local level.
“HOME will offer an infrastructure to provide and recommend trustable accommodation to students and trainees, who, at the moment, have no good way to judge the quality of the accommodations on offer, while landlords and housing operators will be empowered to certify the quality of their properties and offer them in a homogenized and officially recognized system,” says Djordy Seelmann, CEO of HousingAnywhere. “As a result, HOME will make it easier and safer for mobile students and trainees to find their new home abroad.”
Partner organisations, ESN, EUF, Confia, UIPI and Polytechnic of Milan, were carefully selected to represent the different stakeholders of the European student housing market, such as the International Union of Property Owners (UIPI), the European University Foundation (EUF), the Polytechnic of Milan (PoliMi), the Erasmus Student Network (ESN International) and learning mobility experts CONFIA.
Project HOME covers the whole EU area. As a pilot, the initial dissemination and validation will focus on the regions where results are more easily scalable. Organized training will ensure that educational resources on the quality labels can be easily spread, with workshops replicated throughout Europe at the local level, bringing together the different stakeholders involved.