The Ministry of Construction, Housing, Urban Development and Transport of North Rhine-Westphalia established a programme in 2016 which supports municipalities financially with the reconstruction and conversion of buildings to construct social infrastructure like meeting/encounter places and culture centres. These centres are supposed to enhance social integration of the new immigrants. Altena was awarded funding by the programme in 2016 as one of hundred municipalities in North Rhine-Westphalia.
Altena is the most shrinking city in western Germany. In 2015 the mayor requested an increase in the number of refugees that Altena was receiving to stop the shrinkage. Now the aim is to integrate the new immigrants. With support of the programme the city of Altena is converting an empty house, which former was used as a restaurant, into an international community centre for refugees, migrants, volunteers and the whole society of the city. What makes this project special is the fact that the renovation work is done by the refugees themselves under the guidance of local craft businesses. This approach can promote the labour market integration of the migrants.
The ILS conducts the scientific monitoring and evaluation of the project. The objectives are to qualify the process and to analyse the impact on the social integration. The results in Altena are also compared with a similar project in the city of Nieheim (Kreis Höxter). The experiences and the success of this project in Altena can be used by the funding authority and for future measures.