Housing and Refugees: Policy Briefing

Philip Brown, Santokh Gill, Jamie Halsall, Akosiwa Agbokou, Jose Garcia, Kate James, Sameerah Mahmood, Tesfalem Yemane

Research output: Book/ReportOther report



Refugees experience some of the worst housing. Despite the centrality of accommodation to the refugee experience there is a striking lack of knowledge about how refugees, those who implement the housing system and housing policies interact. In particular, we know little about how refugees navigate their housing transitions, the role and impact of housing systems and policies on them, the experience of refugees around housing quality and tenure, how refugees are supported in their housing pathways and how these experiences differ as a result of the diversity of the refugee population. A lack of knowledge feeds into inadequate policies and practice. Finding ways to more meaningfully include and understand the lived experiences of refugees, we will be better able to reflect on how policy shapes and mitigates the provision of adequate sanctuary to those in need.

This document focusses on refugees: people who have received leave to remain in the UK either through a refugee resettlement programme or after receiving a determination through the asylum system. It does not focus on those who are awaiting a decision on their asylum application. Based on an analysis of existing evidence and new primary research this policy briefing looks at how the housing system in the United Kingdom impacts the lives of refugees.

Irrespective of the routes into acquiring refugee status, a lack of appropriate and affordable housing, poor housing conditions and insecure housing all play a significant and instrumental role in maintaining precariousness and prolonging vulnerability. This research exposes another community for which the housing crisis, and specifically the shortage of appropriate affordable housing, is adding to systemic and personal fragilities and vulnerabilities within local areas.

This briefing calls for urgent action to review how policy and practice at all levels can be shaped to deliver better outcomes for refugees. It is aimed at those in government, the public sector, the voluntary and community sector and activists.

The study
This document was produced by the authors at the University of Huddersfield as part of the Refugee Integration Yorkshire and Humber project. The project was mobilised in January 2021 and concluded in December 2022. It sought to understand the housing pathways and experiences of refugees who had settled in the UK over a 30-year period. It involved an extensive scoping review of the literature and in-depth research with 49 refugees and 30 policy actors and practitioners. Research participants were mainly drawn from the Yorkshire and Humber region of the UK. Several project outputs have been developed and can be found here: http://healthy-housing.uk/

This includes:

• Peer-reviewed academic articles
• An in-depth final project report
• A graphic novel
• An interactive documentary

This document has been produced with the financial support of the European Union Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund. The contents of this publication are the sole responsibility of the authors, and in no way reflect the views of the funder, the European Commission or the United Kingdom Responsible Authority (UKRA). Neither the European Commission nor UKRA is liable for any use that may be made of the information in this publication.
Original languageEnglish
Commissioning bodyMigration Yorkshire
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 23 Dec 2022


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