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Today during my volunteer work with the Red Cross, a family showed me a paper from the City of Cologne. The paper says they owe money for time living in a Red Cross home, which they did not choose (the city placed them there and they lived there about 9 months). The family comes from Syria and has 1-year Subsidiärer Schutz.

My question is, can somebody clarify for me when or why refugees must pay money to live in a government shelter? The type of fee, I think, is called Benutzungsgebühr.

I will also try to search for information myself. However, I asked some other refugee families I know who have a status, and they claimed they have never heard of this.

If anybody can help clarify or offer information, I would be very grateful. Thank you!
asked Oct 26, 2017 in Home & Living by Eme

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1 Answer

+1 vote
Hello @Eme - nice to hear from you again!

For me this is the first time that I hear about this as well. But I did some research and found the following article (German language):

It basically says that some refugees in Bavaria have to pay fees for accommodation and catering (retroactively and ongoing) if they had (or still have) a job whilst being in the camp. This article lists how other federal states like Berlin, Bremen, Saarland or Thuringia handle the situation:

(German language)

So it could be that North Rhine-Westphalia has a similar rule that they didn't tell anybody about.

The first article states that refugees that received such a letter can file an objection, but the chances for a successful outcome seem to be low.

Best regards,
answered Oct 27, 2017 by Thor
Hello Thorgen, thank you for the insight and the two news articles. I will continue to search for news about the topic. I found the NRW law that explains the idea, but I am interested to learn more about if the law is enforced in practice. This family did not have a member working with a job (both parents are in Integration/Language course right now), so I need to research more why they would be obliged to pay such a fee. Maybe if anybody else has experienced this, they will post and share. Thanks for the help.
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