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Housing of refugees in cities: Showcasing the integrating role of housing providers

A Housing Europe scoping paper for the EU Urban Agenda

Brussels, 12 October 2016 | Published in Social

In summer 2016, Housing Europe has been asked to produce a scoping paper to identify bottlenecks and potential solutions to improve the long-term integration of refugees and non-EU migrants through housing. The paper will be used as basis for discussion at the working conference organised by the Partnership on Integration of Migrants and Refugees of the Urban Agenda for the EU.

In its different sections, the paper presents:

  • the legal background and the initiative of the European Union so far;
  • the bottlenecks that the Member States could face (structural challenges, access to housing);
  • the best practices from the ground and finally,
  • it relates the challenges to achieve better use of EU policies, EU funding and knowledge sharing.

Housing Europe has used this opportunity to share good practices from its member organizations that showcase the integrating role of housing providers in France, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Germany. Public, cooperative and social housing providers already cooperate with a wide range of stakeholders from various sectors, including health and homelessness, within the community, even more now that communities and neighbourhoods are hit by unemployment and poverty as well as new migration flows.

In terms of recommendations the paper makes the link between the identified challenges and existing EU instruments when addressing these bottlenecks.

A. Better use of EU regulations and policies

At a time when many countries are at a crossroads regarding their housing policy, it has to be ensured that they choose the right path for this transition. Housing and housing-related policies have to deliver concrete results at a much faster pace. Tackled policy issues in this part include EU Action Plan on integration, initiatives towards socially mixed communities, Regulation on the access of refugees to the labour market.

B. Better use of EU funding

It is clear that the local level lack funding to tackle the changing needs, therefore we need to improve the distribution of funding, make it more flexible to access, and adaptable. The focus is on Structural Funds, Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) and European Fund for Strategic Investment (EFSI).

C. Better use of EU data and knowledge

There is a need to tackle first the communication barriers-among others. Learning from each other is a crucial element to be able to succeed in the long term. Creative ideas are given ranging from the establishment of stable structures to inform asylum seekers on a city level, involvement of volunteers, promotion of peer learning exchanges between cities, to the capitalisation on interregional cooperation tools.

The ultimate goal of the Partnership is to deliver a Working Programme in 2017, therefore from the ‘identification of bottlenecks and potentials’ the paper outlines the actual initiatives that the upcoming Action Plan should include.