Cover of a guide on housing rights for refugees in Italy, published by UNHCR, ASGI and SUNIA | Source: via ANSA
Cover of a guide on housing rights for refugees in Italy, published by UNHCR, ASGI and SUNIA | Source: via ANSA

The UN refugee agency UNHCR, the Association for Juridical Studies on Immigration (ASGI) and the Italian housing union SUNIA have published a guide in Italy to help refugees find housing and inform them about their rights and obligations in relation to rentals and contracts.

Finding housing and getting access to other rights connected to housing are among the main obstacles faced by refugees in their quest to become independent.

Discrimination and lack of information are a problem for many people who have been granted international protection and who are looking for housing in Italy.

In order to help refugees navigate rentals, contracts, their rights and duties, UNHCR, the Association for Juridical Studies on Immigration (ASGI) and Italian housing union SUNIA on April 9 published a guide called "The refugee house. Guide to housing autonomy for beneficiaries of international protection in Italy."

A guide in Italian and English

Available in Italian and English, the guide provides information on access to public housing and rentals, with insights into different types of contracts and the rights and duties of tenants and landlords.

Other sections are dedicated to specific tools to protect them against discrimination and information on civil registry and residence registration.

"Many refugees experience strong difficulties in looking for housing and supporting them must be a priority, also to prevent them from experiencing precarious situations that could lead to conditions of extreme marginalization," the UNHCR representative for Italy, the Holy See and San Marino, Chiara Cardoletti, told ANSA.

"Detailed information, tools of protection and the right connections in case of discrimination are indispensable to reach such a relevant objective for their life in Italy. For this reason, UNHCR, together with ASGI and SUNIA, has decided to make this guide that we hope can help refugees in their quest for adequate housing," she concluded.

Right to housing amid difficulties and discrimination

Refugees have a hard time accessing public or private housing once they leave a hosting facility. "There is systematic racism in private negotiations", Paola Fierro, coordinator of ASGI's ant-discrimination service, told ANSA.

"If your skin is of a different color, it is very hard to rent a place, there is prejudice," she explained.

Talking about public housing, Fierro said "it is almost entirely managed by regions that adopt laws with criteria that are often directly or indirectly discriminatory for foreigners."

The guide mentions important decisions of the Constitutional Court that deemed regional laws discriminatory thus providing refugees with the juridical tools to defend their right to access public housing.

Finding housing is also essential for refugees to obtain their residence permit.

"Refugees have the right to register as residents just like Italian citizens, but without housing it isn't always possible to obtain a stay permit or a stay permit can be lost, which is a problem to get citizenship," said Fierro.

In Italy "today the right to housing is not a respected right. The pandemic has shown this, there is no housing policy for all and the most marginalized categories like refugees suffer from this void," the secretary general of SUNIA, Stefano Chiappelli, told ANSA.

"Our country needs a public answer for those who need housing at a sustainable rent and public housing. It is necessary to give rentals centrality and to redesign cities in order to be able to give a response to everybody, especially the weakest categories like refugees," said Chiappelli.


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