Housing and Shelter

Keywords: Housing

Access to housing is one of the main problems for undocumented migrants whose situation is characterized by residential mobility.

Many are forced to live as nomads because of the uncertainty of their income and their irregular status. Undocumented migrants often develop strategies to avoid controls on the housing market. They live in the homes of their legalised relatives, share rooms with other migrants, pay provisions to legal residents who act as the formal tenant or they rent on the unofficial housing market. Subsequently, housing can be very expensive and, quite frequently, apartments are overcrowded.

Undocumented migrants are disproportionately vulnerable to exploitation by unscrupulous landlords as they lack a means of redress. Often they are fearful to file a complaint against bad housing conditions because of their precarious status, and in many countries in the EU they are systematically denied access to any support or complaint measures.

PICUM's Research on Housing

Following requests from its members, PICUM began a project on shelter to clearly define the problem, reveal its various causes and components and provide a basis for PICUM’s network to develop a plan for further action.

PICUM gathered information of the right to housing in general, and given an overview of the situation in six selected countries as regards the housing situation of undocumented migrants. This information resulted from desk research and from interviews with staff of both homeless organisations such as FEANSTA and NGOs dealing with undocumented migrants.

Of an explorative character, PICUM's report focused on a limited number of countries: the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, Austria, Germany and Spain. This initative seeks to provide a broad overview and to detect the main problems.

PICUM would like to thank OEVER for providing the necessary funds to conduct this research.

Finalised in April 2004, PICUM's housing report is available here.

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