Monday, 20 February 2012

Migrant Communities and Housing in the UK

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation, alongside HACT (a housing action charity), have today published a report on migrants experience of the private rented sector in the UK. As a section of a three-part report on housing and migration by The Housing and Migration Network, these papers aim to influence policy making in order to accommodate the needs of new migrants to the UK. Working to improve the housing circumstances of recent migrants who are victims of poor housing, whether they be asylum seekers or migration workers, and creating concrete changes to housing policy that is community specific, this report calls for government to include communities in the formulation of proposals and policy.

According to the report, 75% of recent migrants to the UK live in private rented accommodation. Firstly,  this fundamentally dispels the myth that migrants and asylum seekers exploit government provided social housing. Yet the problem remains that the private housing sector is less clearly regulated than public provision. A lot of accommodation inhabited by migrants is either in poor condition or heavily overcrowded, often with irregular tenancies. Whilst the government refuses to tackle the malpractice of exploitative landlords, the impact of this precarious housing situation is often felt in the wider community. Rather than the issue being created by the migrants themselves, the tension between 'settled' and 'new' communities is perpetuated by poor regulation of the private housing market.

As campaigning groups begin to put more pressure on G4S, the multinational security company that is set to take over the social housing contract for asylum seekers in Yorkshire and Humberside, it is important to remember that housing is a huge problem for migrants at large. Those who have precarious lives, whether as refugees or economic migrants, should, like everyone else, not be left to the greedy hands of some exploitative landlords; no-one's rights should become the victim of capital.

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