17. 08. 2022

Of sly foxes and the allocation of housing

Three kids are playing and drawing together with their mother in the park around Kunsthaus Flora. Image provided by Schlaufuchs e.V.

The cruel war in Ukraine concerns us at D-LABS - as a company, as part of society, and simply as people and employees. Kind words and promises are well-intentioned, but they are of little help. The creativity and drive of the many is needed to find sustainable solutions to rapidly emerging challenges.

Let’s be sly as foxes!

Team member Hagen, for example, launched an internal fundraising campaign for two Ukrainian families immediately after the start of this crisis. Inspired by that initiative, D-LABS - with the support of the Hasso Plattner Foundation (HPF) - organized quick and unbureaucratic access to child daycare and German courses for refugees from the Ukraine together with Schlaufuchs Berlin e.V. (which translates to “sly fox”). This made it possible for them to take their first independent steps with things like doctor visits, searching for housing or talking to their respective municipality in their new home country. Of course, arriving in German society and the local job market were and continue to be important concerns that are addressed there. Hagen commments:

“During an on-site visit with our CEO Jörn to two Schlaufuchs e.V. locations in Berlin, we were able to see for ourselves the grateful acceptance of this initiative by the people impacted, the majority of whom are mothers with children of various ages and educational backgrounds from Eastern Ukraine. The important conversations we had there were in many ways expressions of appreciation for this very practical and quick help from the many volunteers, for people who were torn from their day-to-day lives overnight.”

If you would like to know more about the work of Schlaufuchs Berlin e.V. and/or support them financially, materially or practically, please see their website via this link.

Sly Foxes_2

Housing: An essential good

When Ukrainian refugees were looking for a safe home in Potsdam earlier this year, they were met with an immense willingness to help, plenty of apartments offered, and one key problem: How to access this vital resource? The city administration of Potsdam had also recognized this need and gave D-LABS the task to develop a new digital platform to allocate housing space specifically for refugees. For our team, this meant once again: Time to pull up our sleeves and get to work!

Only a user-centric solution is sustainable. In order to ensure a realistic design of the digital tool within the record-breaking development time of four weeks, the project was accompanied by our user researcher Stella. In her words:

“In order to learn more about the working environment and daily routine of housing allocation for refugees, we visited those responsible in the city hall and the AWO Potsdam. Through careful shadowing and many conversations, it was possible for us to gain a first-hand impression into their activities as well as the current hurdles of their work. These insights including pain points were incorporated into a process overview that enabled the identification of overlaps in tasks and cross-departmental challenges, and served our designer Marko as a basis for initial designs and mockups. The early involvement of the future users in the iteration process was instrumental in making the tool run smoothly.”

For more information on this platform for refugee housing, see the press release by the city of Potsdam.

Ahead lies a time full of challenges that require human-centered solutions. We will continue to keep our eyes open for these needs and the ways we can help in the region.

by Jessica Orsolani-Uhlig
Expert Communications


Marlene-Dietrich-Allee 15
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