UkraineTakeShelter.com is a tech platform available on a simple and user-friendly website that connects Ukrainian refugees with potential hosts and housing around the world. The initiative was developed by two college students soon after Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022. The initiative is maintained through the support of volunteers and partnerships. Responding to posts by the founders on social media, volunteers have assisted with tasks ranging from cyber security to translations. The founders have raised awareness for UkraineTakeShelter.com since it launched through coordinating with other civil society organizations to share the website with their networks.
Theory of Change
Using accessible tech platforms to help refugees secure support more quickly and efficiently helps build local and cross-border solidarity.
This website operates as a public bulletin. Everyone with available space is encouraged to post a listing. Hosts are then encouraged to mark it as filled once they have successfully taken in refugees. The platform was developed to streamline access to immediate shelter. For refugees, UkraineTakeShelter.com asks users for their nearest city to display the closest listings. However, the website does not track their precise location. They have the option to search for accommodations using different filters, including number of people, languages spoken, length of stay, and urgent and long-term needs. They are then provided with options to contact the hosts directly by WhatsApp, email, or other platforms. For hosts, users are only required to provide minimal information, such as their city and contact information. The founders created an anti-bot system and a process for reporting suspicious listings to bolster security. Because the platform cannot validate hosts directly, UkraineTakeShelter.com includes a series of questions for refugees to ask their hosts before arrival. The platform is also compatible with Viber, a popular messaging app in Eastern Europe, to expand accessibility.
Developed within three days, the website has connected thousands of people fleeing Ukraine to safe housing amid Europe’s largest refugee crisis since World War II. Within the first few weeks, the platform has featured available housing from over 10,000 hosts, translated its website in over a dozen languages, and had over 100 million online views.