Refugees having a hard time finding a home

Refugees are increasingly struggling to find a home to rent.  When asylum seekers receive recognition and obtain refugee status they now have two months in which to find rented accommodation.

The Flemish Association of Towns and Cities, the VVSG, says that in practice it’s not feasible to achieve this and local social services are having to be more and more creative to find an acceptable solution and ensure refugees don’t end up on the street.

Anybody applying for asylum gets board and lodging either in a big asylum centre or in local initiatives.  As soon as asylum seekers receive recognition and become refugees they have to prepare for an integration course and look for work and a home.

The VVSG’s Nathalie Debast explains that finding “creative solutions” involves a lot of red tape and involves a lot of time and work. In practice it’s also taking refugees more and more time to find accommodation.

“There’s too little rented accommodation available for vulnerable people of foreign heritage” she says.

Refugees usually start in low pay jobs and are all eyeing the same part of the market.

Nathalie Debast: “Once recognised, they can stay.  It’s important they find high quality housing.  It’s in everybody’s interest that they quickly find a home and have the opportunity to integrate and build networks”.

Social services say on average it’s now taking 5 months in order to find accommodation. Nathalie Debast says the solution is to increase the time available, provide more social housing and boost availability of private accommodation for people on low income.