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December 2019

Welcome to the seventh issue of the FEANTSA Migration & Homelessness newsletter, which will provide you with information concerning homelessness among mobile EU citizens as well as third-country nationals. You will learn, among other things, about the latest FEANTSA events, homeless migrants' encampments around Europe, awful living conditions in Greek reception centres for asylum seekers, and the challenges faced by beneficiaries of international protection to find housing in Belgium. We hope you will enjoy it. For any comment or news you would like to be included in the next issue, please contact Mauro Striano

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FEANTSA News

FEANTSA, together with the S&D, held a seminar on the “working poor” and EU Free Movement
The interpretation of the notion of “worker” is of utmost importance to the proper enjoyment of EU free movement rights by mobile EU citizens. There is evidence of a trend towards a narrow interpretation of “genuine and effective” as regards the nature of the activity, to exclude from residence rights, and from access to welfare benefits, mobile EU citizens engaged in low-wage jobs or working only a few hours a week. A narrow interpretation targets mobile EU citizens with precarious working conditions who are also more vulnerable to homelessness. As a follow-up to the report on the notion of worker in the context of low-wage and low-hour employment recently published, FEANTSA invited stakeholders to have an exchange on this topic. The seminar, hosted by Estrella Durá MEP at the European Parliament, provided an opportunity to present and discuss the main results of the report.
Read the report in English

FEANTSA, together with Crisis and the Public Interest Law Centre, organised in London a roundtable discussion on solution to homelessness among mobile EU citizens
The roundtable discussion brought together around 70 participants from the European Commission, European local authorities, London municipalities and organisations working with homeless mobile EU citizens to share examples of good practice, discuss challenges and potential solutions - with breakout sessions to discuss identified issues in more depth. The main objectives of this event were: sharing best practices across Europe – providing opportunities for local authorities to learn from each other; encouraging a different approach to ending rough sleeping for mobile EU citizens, shifting from reconnection and enforcement approach to a focus on employment and support.
Programme of the event
The report will soon be available. 

The King Baudoin Foundation talks about PRODEC
The number of homeless mobile EU citizens across Europe is rising every year. Many worked for years under the EU mobility framework but became homeless for a reason or another, like a family issue, divorce or health issues. Adding to their plight is the difficulty of navigating administration systems in member states, understanding civil rights and coping with language barriers. The European Programme for Integration and Migration (EPIM), a network of 25 private organizations co-founded by the King Baudouin Foundation supports with its fund “Protecting the Rights of Destitute EU mobile Citizens” (PRODEC) homeless EU citizens with, among others, frontline services that help homeless EU migrants with information on legal rights.
Read the full article
 

Free movement

Romeurope published a report on best practices to house Roma living in slums and squats
In view of the municipal elections, Romeurope published a report on French best practices to house Roma living in slums and squats. The report features information on the reality experienced by people living in slums and squats in France, case studies in several French cities, what worked and what did not, ideas to boost local dynamics and interviews with actors involved in housing people living in slums.
Read the full report or the executive summary (in French)

The catch-22 of homeless care shows why charities must stand up to government 
EU nationals are often barred from homelessness benefits unless they have a job – a perverse outcome of the hostile environment policy and one that charities are effectively enforcing. Long before Brexit, the government began to restrict access to a social safety net for EU nationals living and working in the UK. As the tragic story of Gyula Remes shows, the plight of EU citizens who sleep rough today offers a chilling illustration of how far this policy has progressed. As with Theresa May’s “hostile environment”, what is disturbing is the extent to which a highly politicised agenda has permeated every capillary and access point of the welfare state and civil society.
Read Jean Demars' article published in The Guardian

Migration and Asylum

Homeless migrants' encampments: European comparisons and recommendations
For several years now, homeless migrants' encampments have been in the news. Present in certain districts or on the outskirts of cities, they arouse indignant or exasperated reactions. They are mainly inhabited by immigrants in various administrative situations: asylum seekers and beneficiaries of international protection, mobile EU citizens, Roma, undocumented migrants. These sites are regularly evacuated then repopulated.
Fondapol published a report that compares European situations and draws recommendations. 
Read the report (in French)
Read an interview with the author of the report, Julien Damon

UK Government failings are leaving vulnerable people seeking asylum homeless and hungry, new joint report finds
New research published by the charities Refugee Action and NACCOM, the No Accommodation Network, has revealed that vulnerable people refused asylum in the UK, including pregnant women and those with serious mental health conditions, are being failed by the Government’s asylum support system, leaving them homeless and unable to feed or clothe their families. The report, which features evidence from 200 asylum support applications to the Home Office from around the UK, highlights that in some cases particularly vulnerable applicants are being made to wait for up to seven times the Government’s own recommended time limit for a decision on their application for support. Despite being legally entitled to support, long delays are forcing them into homelessness.
Read the report

Thousands of asylum seekers are trapped in vastly overcrowded Aegean island camps in squalid conditions
Children being bitten by scorpions, rats, and snakes; hundreds being forced to use a single shower; the stench of human excrement never far away; and food shortages becoming the norm. Back in September, Sophie McCann listed one by one the degradations of life for asylum seekers detained on Lesbos. In September, McCann, a British advocacy manager with Médecins Sans Frontières, like other aid workers, raised the alarm: at least 24,000 men, women, and children trapped in vastly overcrowded Aegean island camps are being subjected to conditions so harrowing they bear all the hallmarks of a humanitarian catastrophe. 
Moreover, overcrowding in the Moria camp in Lesbos, which hosts 9,000 refugees for a maximum capacity of 3,100 people, causes health problems for migrants, including mental health problems for children who become aggressive, no longer want to eat or play, who hurt themselves and, in some cases, attempted suicide.
Read the article about inhuman living conditions
Read the article about mental health issues among children (in French) 
 
Asylum and migration: in Belgium, the "reception crisis" is caused by the closure of reception centres
The saturation of a number of reception centers for asylum seekers in Belgium is the result of political decisions taken by the government, according to the Coordination and Initiatives for Refugees and Foreigners (CIRE). At the end of 2017, given the decrease in the number of requests and the occupancy rate of the centers, the former Secretary of State for Asylum, Theo Francken (N-VA), decided to close several centers opened in 2015 when Europe was facing a massive migratory influx.
For instance, in Charleroi, the 170 reception places located in Jumet were no longer sufficient. As a consequence, Army tents were set up to accommodate asylum seekers.
Read the article about CIRE statement (in French)
Read the article about tents set up in Jumet (in French)

In the UK, Home Office 'infiltrates' safe havens to deport rough sleepers
The Home Office is using information gathered in “immigration surgeries” at charities and places of worship to deport vulnerable homeless people who are told that attending will help them get financial support, the Guardian has learned. Interviews and internal emails revealed the Salvation Army, Sikh gurdwaras and a Chinese community support centre are among the bodies allowing Home Office teams in London to run sessions in spaces that are intended to be safe havens for homeless people. Attendees are assured the sessions are not offered as part of “an enforcement approach” to immigration cases and told that taking part may help them regularise their status. However, the initiative is run by the Home Office’s immigration enforcement unit and if officials conclude that attendees have no right to be in the country, they may be asked to agree to their voluntary removal. If they refuse they risk being subjected to the Home Office’s “case-by-case” discretion and deported.
Read the article

In Belgium, access to housing for beneficiaries of international protection is getting more and more challenging
In Belgium, the housing crisis for beneficiaries of international protection is becoming dramatic. Once an asylum seeker is recognized as a refugee, s/he has two months to leave the reception centre. This period can possibly be extended twice by one month. But the two-month period is too limited, as practice shows: 51 percent of the Public Center for Social Welfare report that it takes three to four months for a recognized refugee to leave the reception centre. 45 percent even say it takes five months on average. 
Read the article (in Dutch)

In the UK, asylum seekers are left with no heating in rat-infested homes due to 'failing' new Home Office contract, charities warn
Vulnerable people are being forced to live with no heating in rat-infested properties because a new government contract for the delivery of asylum support is beset with “severe failures”, charities reported. Ministers are being urged to act after it emerged asylum seekers, including single mothers with babies, have been living in “appalling” conditions for weeks on end due to “drastically increased” waiting times for the new contractor to respond to complaints.
Read the article 

A home for all: Understanding migrant homelessness in Great Britain
Crisis launched scoping research looking to better understand the scale of migrant homelessness, their current experience and how frontline services are responding to this. The research found that the scale of homelessness had gone up in the last 12 months, and over a third have had to expand their services to meet the current needs. People experiencing homelessness who are not originally from the UK are faced with many of the same support needs as the general homeless population, but these can be compounded by their specific experience, immigration status, and associated entitlements. For those without recourse to public funds or who are not entitled to health and social care support, they are locked out of systems that can assist with complex trauma, mental health and substance misuse.
Read the report
This publication has received financial support from the 
European Union Programme for Employment and Social Innovation "EaSi" (2014-2020)
The information contained in this publication does not automatically reflect the official position of the European Commission

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