Immigration and Homelessness in Europe

Immigration and Homelessness in Europe

Immigration and Homelessness in Europe

Immigration and Homelessness in Europe


Drawing on the national reports of the correspondents of the European Observatory on Homelessness, the book provides a comparative analysis, identifying the commonalities and differences across fifteen member states of the EU. Specifically, the book assesses the impact of recent changes in European housing markets, especially their commodification and privatisation; examines how immigrants' vulnerability to homelessness is reflected in their legal status and explores the effect that growing numbers of migrants and their changing demographics have had on providers of homelessness services in Europe. Immigration and homelessness in Europe is essential reading for policy makers, service providers, social workers, researchers and students of housing and housing policy.


This is the last of a series of publications produced by the feantsa European Observatory on Homelessness. This book looks at the complex relation between two urgent realities in Europe: homelessness and severe housing exclusion on the one hand, and immigration on the other. in spite of the complexity of the theme and the lack of available data, the authors have managed to present a detailed analysis of the dynamic relationship between immigration and homelessness. As in the other books in the series, the crucial importance of housing for social inclusion emerges as a central issue. the authors also address problems, all too often ignored elsewhere, such as housing exclusion experienced by undocumented immigrants.

In Europe, immigrants make up around 20 million of the Union’s population of 380 million. Immigration has been increasing across almost all member states in the last decade and even countries that historically have been net exporters of people are now net importers. Net migration is now the largest component of population change in Europe.

A number of patterns, however, make the issue more significant than this statistic would suggest. Immigrants remain concentrated in particular regions and cities, and some remain excluded even after they have become citizens. Migrants come from a far wider range of countries and bring a greater diversity of cultures than in the past. Migration flows include not only economic immigrants (permanent settlers, contracted labour and temporary migrants) and those seeking family reunion, but also asylum seekers and refugees and, increasingly, undocumented migrants. This range of migration types is reflected in the increasingly varied social and demographic profiles of migrants. Many of the ‘new wave’ immigrants are less able to compete in the housing and labour markets than previous immigrants, whose arrival was associated with a defined labour market need. Immigrants with an undocumented or indeterminate status, together with other vulnerable immigrant groups, such as women and young people, are particularly at risk of becoming homeless and facing housing exclusion.

One of the factors leading to an increased focus on integration at the eu level is the belated recognition that migration will be a permanent part of Europe’s future. Access to decent and affordable housing is a key factor in the integration of immigrants, without which integration into the labour market and the other areas of life is very difficult, if not impossible.

My sincere thanks go to the national research correspondents and the coordinators of the European Observatory on Homelessness of feantsa for taking up an issue which is increasingly a central concern for organisations working with homeless people, but one which constitutes a difficult and challenging field of research.

Donal McManus, President of feantsa, October 2004

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