Hosting Refugees: The Impact of The Occupancy Free of Charge (OFC) Shelter Modality in Lebanon

​Policy Brief​​​​​​​​​​​​​

Watfa Najdi, Project Coordinator & Researcher, Refugee Research and Policy Program, Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs, American University of Beirut

Research Advisory and Review Committee
Nasser Yassin, PhD (Director of Research, IFI-AUB)
Mona Fawaz, PhD (Professor of Urban Studies and Planning, AUB)
Ali Chalak, PhD (Associate Professor in Applied Economics, AUB)
Rayan El Hajj (Shelter and WASH Technical Adviser SCI)

Refugee Research and Policy Program, September 2019​



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. In this context, humanitarian agencies played an instrumental role by implementing programs that aim to alleviate the suffering of both vulnerable refugees and Lebanese host communities namely, the Occupancy Free of Charge (OFC) Shelter Modality. This program aimed to improve the capacity of local communities to host refugees and to provide minimum standard housing and tenure security for vulnerable Syrian refugees. 

Based on a study conducted in three locations in Lebanon: Bar Elias (Bekaa), Amayer (Akkar), and Minie (North), this research explores the impact of the shelter modality on (1) the livelihoods of targeted Syrian refugees, particularly their access to food, healthcare, and education, (2) the social cohesion between refugees and their host communities in the areas where it was implemented, and (3) housing conditions and future plans of targeted refugee households, and finally (4) the housing stock and market dynamics prior and post to the implementation of this modality.

The research study is based on data retrieved from a total of 1284 surveys filled by OFC beneficiaries, previous OFC beneficiaries and non-OFC beneficiaries complemented by qualitative data collected from 6 focus group discussions conducted with current and previous OFC households and key informant interviews conducted with landlords and local authorities in the three areas of the study. The study was conducted by the Issam Fares Institute, in collaboration with Save the Children, Lebanon and was funded by DFID UK.


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