Homeless Migrants’ Needs: the Risk of Destitution


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Presentation given by Suzanne Fitzpatrick, UK, at a FEANTSA Research Conference on "Migration, Homelessness and Demographic Change in Europe", Pisa, Italy, 2011

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Homeless Migrants’ Needs: the Risk of Destitution

  1. 1. Homeless Migrants’ Needs: TheRisks of DestitutionPresentation to European ResearchConference, Suzanne Fitzpatrick,16th September 2011
  2. 2. Destitute migrants in EU EC study to examine the interaction between welfare regimes and housing systems in: Germany, Hungary, the Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden and the UK1. What is the impact of the welfare regime + housing system on the nature and causes of homelessness?2. How effective are responses to homelessness, and what might Member States learn from each other?
  3. 3. Vignette on ‘single malemigrant who loses casualwork and has rent arrears ’ Varies between countries: major issue in UK, Netherlands and Germany; less so in Sweden; declining issue in Portugal; not at all in Hungary Legal status all important: CEE homeless migrants key concern - have little welfare protection, especially in Netherlands and UK; in Germany access to homeless accommodation (with residence permit); in Sweden access to social assistance (with residence permit) Economic downturn has hit vulnerable migrants very hard; on margins of both labour market (informal economy) and housing markets (tenuous forms of accommodation)
  4. 4. Policy implications of EUstudy CEE migrants a growing concern, but also refused asylum seekers and undocumented migrants Stark choice: ‘Get work or go home’; back to work and reconnection schemes Reliance on charities/churches Complex legal and policy arrangements – some countries/cities seem to cope better than others Priority should be given to preventing destitution amongst vulnerable migrants; Consensus Conference; new EC study on ‘Mobility, Migration and Destitution’
  5. 5. Multiple exclusionhomelessness in the UK Statistically representative survey of users of ‘low threshold’ homelessness, drugs and other services in seven cities across UK 1,286 survey responses from all users of these services 452 extended interviews with service users who had experienced MEH: ‘homelessness’ + at least one of ‘institutional care’, ‘substance misuse’ or street culture activities’
  6. 6. Migrants in the MEHpopulation 17% of all MEH interviewees migrated to the UK as an adult; 41% of interviewees in Westminster (London) Specific migrant groups: Central and Eastern European (CCE): 7% Former asylum seekers (refugee status or leave to remain) – 3% Current asylum seekers – 1% Undocumented migrants – 4%
  7. 7. A profile of migrants in theMEH population On average, they migrated to the UK aged 30 One fifth were UK citizens by point of interview 78% were male (similar to non-migrants) Younger than non-migrants on average (90% were under 50) Tended to have left school later and to have more qualifications than non-migrants
  8. 8. Current accommodationAccommodation Non-migrant Migrant1. Hostel etc. 45% 26%2. Permanent 21% 16%housing3. Temporary flat 14% 8%4. Sleeping rough 8% 33%5. Family or friends 7% 10%6. Squat 2% 6%7. Other 3% 2%
  9. 9. Sources of income in pastmonthSource of income Non-migrants Migrants1. UK benefits 93% 43%2. Paid work 5% 18%3. Friends or relatives 11% 20%4. Charity/church 1% 8%5. Big Issue 4% 18%6. Begging 5% 6%7. Illegal activities 8% 0%8. None 2% 16%
  10. 10. MEH-relevant experiencesExperience Non-migrants Migrants1. Rough sleeping 75% 88%2. Hostels etc. 88% 66%3. Prison 52% 14%4. Admitted to 32% 16%hospital with amental health issue5. Used hard drugs 46% 35%6. Alcohol problems 68% 37%7. Street drinking 59% 26%8. Begging 33% 26%9. Attempted suicide 41% 20%
  11. 11. Childhood experiencesExperience Non-migrants Migrants1. Truanted 54% 29%2. Ran away 38% 16%3. Violence between 29% 16%parents4. Parents had 26% 14%drug/alcohol problem5. Sexually abused 24% 19%6. Physically abused 23% 16%7. In care 18% 8%
  12. 12. Conclusions Homeless and destitute migrants a growing concern across a range of western European cities In UK at least, migrants have a very different profile from rest of MEH population, and require bespoke responses