Pandemic Response City Project

Medellín, Colombia: Housing Assistance for Migrant and Displaced Families


In 2021, the City of Medellín, Colombia, was selected as a grantee of the Global Cities Fund for Migrants and Refugees (GCF), the MMC’s instrument to channel international funding directly to cities to implement inclusive projects of their own design. 

With support from the GCF, Medellín provided transitional housing to 300 Venezuelan refugee and migrant families, while connecting them to city services, including legal aid to register for temporary protection. Thanks to this holistic approach, 80 percent of families have already found permanent housing. 

Using this project as a proof of concept, Medellín unlocked an additional US$ 1 million from international donors and US$500,000 from its own budget to continue its housing assistance program and support thousands of migrants and refugees in the city.


Colombia is home to over two million Venezuelan refugees and eight million internally displaced people. Medellín hosts the second largest population of refugees and migrants in the country, including 190,000 Venezuelans who join thousands of IDPs in the city’s marginalized neighborhoods.

Refugees and migrants in Medellín face significant challenges accessing housing, livelihoods, and mental health services, partially due to a lack of information about their rights and available support. Medellín’s migrant community was also among the most affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and infection prevention measures, which halted the informal economy, heightened food insecurity, and increased risks of homelessness. 

By July 2020, the city’s emergency hotline (Línea 123 Social) had responded to 7,674 Venezuelans seeking assistance, more than 1,900 of whom applied for housing due to homelessness.

Medellín expanded its transitional housing program to meet critical shelter needs among refugees and migrants during the pandemic. 
Photo Credit: MMC


Through its GCF grant, Medellín expanded its transitional housing program to meet increased needs among refugees and migrants in Medellín in the context of Covid-19 in 2021.

The city used an emergency hotline to identify over 300 refugee and migrant families at risk of homelessness and provided them with temporary housing and wraparound social services. 

In addition to fulfilling a dire need for shelter, the project team helped families find employment, secure long-term dignified housing, enroll their children in school, and access other essential services like healthcare, psychosocial care, and status-regularization support. 

Medellín provided families tailored support based on an individual assessment, resulting in a Family Action Plan that connected migrants and refugees with the services they needed.


As a result of Medellín’s project, 300 refugee and migrant families at risk of homelessness—comprising 1,250 people—accessed dignified temporary shelter and wraparound social services. Over 80 percent of these families went on to find permanent housing on their own. 

In addition to fulfilling a dire need for housing, Medellín’s project strengthened the city’s institutional offering of social services for its growing migrant community. This is especially impactful given the informational and institutional barriers migrants and refugees face to accessing essential services like healthcare, housing, and legal support in the city.   

Using this project as a proof of concept, Medellín’s Secretariat of Social Inclusion contributed over US$500,000 and unlocked an additional US$ 1 million from international donors to support thousands of migrants and refugees with ongoing housing needs. 

The objectives of Medellín’s GCF project are also reflected in the city’s wider policies and development plans. Medellín Municipal Government’s Social Service to Populations in Emergency Situations strategy has set housing as a key priority and established a long-term commitment to addressing migrants’ housing needs. The Plan de Desarrollo Medellín Futuro 2020-2023 includes a commitment to develop a public migration policy, currently in its final stages and with key elements already being put into practice by a newly established inter-institutional committee on migration flows.


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