Navigating the maze: Refugee Routes to Housing, Support and Settlement

Gina Netto, Anne Fraser

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report


The main findings of the study are:
• Newly recognised refugees generally faced considerable difficulties in gaining access to appropriate accommodation in Glasgow, partly due to a shortage of accommodation in areas perceived by them to be safe and the lack of appropriately sized accommodation for larger refugee families;
• Refugees have two main means of accessing social housing: through a Section 5 referral (of the Housing (Scotland) Act 2001), the ‘homelessness route’, and through directly applying to individual Housing Associations. Many refugees felt that they needed access to independent and specialist information and advice to enable them to fully understand their housing rights and options, and the processes for seeking accommodation;
• Fear and actual experience of racial harassment is a major concern among refugees, highlighting the need for harassment to be tackled effectively by housing providers;
• A key issue which emerged was the lack of clarity of the roles and responsibilities of agencies involved in supporting refugees, including the roles of the Refugee Support Team, the Scottish Refugee Council and other agencies;
• The delay of the introduction of the pilot Common Housing Register in Glasgow has contributed to the difficulties faced by refugees and other vulnerable individuals in requiring them to apply to individual Registered Social Landlords to increase their housing options instead of filling in a common application form;
• There is an ongoing need for the impartial, specialist service to help refugees navigate the housing system, particularly in the transition from asylum seeker to refugee status;
• There is concern that a number of newly recognised refugees who had formerly stayed in accommodation not provided by Glasgow City Council are ‘falling through the net’ of accommodation and support at the transition stage from asylum support and accommodation to mainstream benefits and housing. This is due to the fact that they have to make a physical move into temporary accommodation upon grant of status;
• The shortage of appropriate permanent accommodation has contributed to prolonged stay in temporary accommodation and rooflessness for a few individuals. There is a need for improved temporary accommodation for refugees, including single young men. This has led to considerable uncertainty and anxiety among the individuals concerned and difficulties in finding employment and settling down;
• A considerable level of unmet needs for support was identified among refugee tenants who had moved into permanent accommodation. This included the need for support with furnishing their accommodation, connecting and using utilities, countering fuel poverty and managing debt, including rent arrears. There is a need for expanded models of tenancy support for refugees across the city, to help meet refugees’ support needs, including preparation for entry into the labour market;
• A major contributory factor to the invisibility of refugee and other Black and Ethnic Minority tenants in Registered Social Landlords in Scotland is the lack of published ethnically disaggregated data relating to applicants and lets. Without such data, it is difficult to encourage RSLs to improve performance;
• Access Apna Ghar Housing Association clients reported significantly higher levels of satisfaction with their accommodation, the number of rooms, their landlord and particularly their area than other tenants. This might partly be due to Access Apna Ghar’s strategy in procuring stock in areas that refugees perceive to be safe;
• There is a lack of mechanisms for assessing refugee tenant satisfaction and encouraging refugee participation in the decision-making processes of Registered Social Landlords;
• About a third of the refugees interviewed reported that they were ‘very likely’ to continue staying in their current accommodation ‘a year from now’, while a third reported that they were ‘not sure’. Reasons for the former included many positive responses related to high satisfaction levels. However, others explained that they were unlikely to move due to lack of access to alternative accommodation. About two thirds of those interviewed reported that they were ‘very likely’ to continue to remain in the city, offering many positive reasons which revealed an appreciation for the city and its people, despite the difficulties experienced in gaining and securing permanent accommodation. However, others expressed an attraction towards London, towards existing networks, families and friends.
Original languageEnglish
Commissioning bodyScottish Refugee Council
Number of pages91
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2009


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