Discrimination in access to housing. An EU perspective - The Role

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					 Discrimination in access to
housing – an EU perspective
   FRA: Legal basis and objective
• Council Regulation 168/2007
   • FRA replaced the European Monitoring Centre on
     Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC) on 15 February
   • Official opening March 1, 2007

• Objective: To provide Community institutions and
  Member States with assistance and expertise, when
  implementing Community law, on fundamental
  rights matters
                      Main tasks
• Information and data collection - analysis
   – Data collection and analysis
   – Improving data quality and comparability
   – Carry out and encourage scientific research

• Cooperation with civil society - awareness-raising
   – Raise public awareness of fundamental rights
   – Promote dialogue with civil society: Fundamental Rights

• Advice to EU institutions and Member States
   – Conclusions and opinions for EU institutions and MSs
   – Reports (Annual and thematic) highlighting good practices
FRA areas of activity
  Multiannual Framework (2007-2012) decided
                 by EU Council

1. racism, xenophobia and related intolerance;
2. discrimination on all grounds, against persons belonging to minorities,
   multiple discrimination;
3. compensation of victims;
4. rights of the child, including protection of children;
5. asylum, immigration and integration of migrants;
6. visa and border control;
7. EU citizens participation in the Union's democratic function;
8. information society and, in particular, respect for private life and
   protection of personal data; and
9. Access to efficient and independent justice.
         Data collection: Racism and racial
• RAXEN: Since 2000 “active” systematic collection of official and unofficial
  data on the basis of common guidelines

• NFPs in each MS contracted by the Agency to report on:
   – Legal issues
   – Racist violence and crime
   – Key areas of social life
       • Employment
       • Education
       • Housing
       • Health
Lisbon Treaty - New general obligation for
the EU to combat exclusion and
• The Union “shall combat social exclusion and discrimination,
  and shall promote social justice and protection, equality
  between women and men, solidarity between generations
  and protection of the rights of the child” - Art. 3 Para. 3 (TEU)
• “In defining and implementing its policies and activities, the
  Union shall aim to combat discrimination based on sex, racial
  or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual
  orientation” - Art. 10 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the
  European Union (TFEU)
   EU Anti-Discrimination Legislation
The Racial Equality Directive (RED) 2000/43/EC

• Implements the principle of equal treatment between people irrespective
  of racial or ethnic origin;
• Gives protection against discrimination in employment and training,
  education, social security, healthcare and access to goods and services
  including housing;
• Gives victims of discrimination a right to make a complaint through a
  judicial or administrative procedure, associated with appropriate penalties
  for those who discriminate.
• Shares the burden of proof between the complainant and the respondent
  in civil and administrative cases.
• Provides for the establishment in each Member State of an organisation
  (National Equality Body) to promote equal treatment and provide
  independent assistance to victims of racial discrimination.
FRA Annual Report 2009: Racism and
discrimination in the area of housing
     Complaints data collected by official or unofficial
  organisations cannot be said to reflect accurately
  the real extent of discrimination in the area of
     The collection of complaints data by official and
  unofficial organisations still remains very diverse
  and uneven in the Member States;
     In a number of countries the National Equality
  Bodies still do not collect disaggregated data
  according to ethnicity in the area of housing.
                 Research findings
Evidence for discrimination in the access of migrants,
refugees, asylum seekers and Roma, to the housing market is
more convincingly highlighted through specific research
projects, household surveys and investigations by official
bodies, rather than through statistics.
            Research findings
Spain: Office for the Public Prosecution in Catalonia
investigated nine housing agencies in July 2007 for
alleged swindles related to flat renting, mostly
affecting immigrants.

Finland: the Ministry of the Interior published a
study on migrants and Roma in housing. Both groups
reported experiences of discrimination when seeking
housing, notably 50 per cent of the Roma.
In Spain: the SOS Racismo Vizcaya survey revealed
significant differences regarding the total number of
flats offered to migrants in comparison with the
flats that were given to natives.

In Sweden: the Swedish Union of Tenants conducted
discrimination testing with telephone calls to
roughly 100 landlords, both public and private, all
over Sweden using foreign and Swedish names. In 37
per cent of the cases there were indications of ethnic
In France: High Council for Integration presented a
report to the French Prime Minister showing that
migrants have been victims of systemic
discrimination in access to social housing, and that
findings of several discrimination tests showed that
migrants have been discriminated against in access
to private housing.

In Ireland: a study showed that racially-motivated
anti-social behaviour was identified as an issue in
local authority social housing and private housing
• In Portugal, research pointed to some degree of
  discrimination against immigrants applying for
  housing loans.

• In Bulgaria an UNHCR survey in Central Europe
  revealed that, landlords asked higher rents and
  deposits from refugees than from local tenants, and
  refugees were often not given back their deposits on
• In Slovenia the same survey disclosed that the
  refugees were not entitled to public housing, and
  faced other problems such as private landlords
  refusing to issue official contracts, so as to avoid tax.

• 2008 Eurobarometer Survey – Discrimination in the
  EU: the average European is comfortable with
  having someone from a different ethnic origin than
  theirs as a neighbour. However, the same survey
  found that around a quarter of Europeans would
  feel uncomfortable having a Roma neighbour.
Legal restrictions in access to

• In Belgium the UN Committee on the
  Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD)
  expressed its concerns about the Flemish
  Housing Code conditioning access to social
  housing units by requiring claimants and
  tenants to know Dutch, or formally engage in
  learning it.
• In Italy the National Office against Racial
  Discrimination (UNAR), the Italian Equality Body
  issued an opinion defining as unlawfully
  discriminatory the ordinances issued by the housing
  department of the municipality of Verona that
  assigned a higher score for the assignment of low
  rent public housing to residents for more than 10
  years and to Italian citizens.

• The European Committee of Social Rights adopted
  two decisions finding that France violated the right
  to housing, one on stopping places for Travellers
  and one on the arrangements for allocating social
  housing to the poorest members of the community
  and of the inadequacy of the means of appeal in the
  event of excessively long waits for housing.
EU-MIDIS: Roma experiences of
discrimination in housing
 Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Poland,
  Romania and Slovakia
 500 Roma respondents interviewed in each Member
 Interview period: 3 May – 10 July 2008
 Sampling: Random route sampling in Bulgaria, Czech
  Republic, Poland, Romania and Slovakia and random
  route sampling in predominantly urban areas
  Greece and Hungary
Thinking about the last five years, have you ever been discriminated
against when looking for a house or apartment to rent or to buy by people
working in a public housing agency or by a private landlord or Agency?

EL                      32      2                            60                              6

HU             21                             51                              28

CZ             20                                  68                                   12

PL        13        1                    53                                 33

SK        11                             61                                   28

RO   3                                   76                                        21

BG   12                             66                                      32

          Yes, ethnically    Yes, other reason          No    Don’t know / Not applicable
Awareness of laws prohibiting discrimination when
renting or buying a flat

Comparative Report Housing Conditions
Roma and Travellers in the EU
• In December 2007 the European Commission asked FRA to
  develop a comprehensive comparative report on the housing
  conditions of Roma and Travellers
• The FRA commissioned the work to the European Roma Rights
  Centre and Pavee Point Travellers Centre
• Evidence collected across the EU cover 2000–2009 by the FRA’s
  RAXEN network and additionally by contractor
   Comparative report
   Six case studies illustrating various housing initiatives
  (qualitative research)
   Analysis of relevant EU-MIDIS data (quantitative research)
 Key findings field research + secondary data
 Large numbers of Roma and Travellers in the EU do not enjoy
  equal treatment in respect to housing
 Many live in substandard conditions, which fall far below even
  minimum criteria of adequate housing
 Some live in squalid shanty-towns and temporary camps, often
  in segregated and hazardous areas
 Roma and Travellers housing is often in areas with poor access
  to public services, employment and schools
 In some cases access to public utilities such as water, electricity
  or gas are inadequate or even non existent
 Many Roma are unaware of their rights under EU law - only 550
  complaints have been filed to Equality Bodies regarding
  discrimination on accessing housing (2000-2009)                 21
                   National policies
• Many MSs have adopted Roma specific initiatives for the
  residential inclusion of Roma, but most have, thus far, failed to
  improve housing conditions commensurably with the funds that
  have been expended
• These initiatives are often not based on evidence and are without
  timetables or benchmarks for assessment
• Some regional and local authorities are reluctant to implement
  effectively the national housing policies

        Three key barriers to overcome

1. Willingness of local authorities, often responsible for social
   housing city plans and zoning restrictions, to embrace and
   implement national housing policies
2. Lack of rights awareness and anti-discrimination laws, as
   evidenced by EU-MIDIS and the limited number of complaints
   received by national equality bodies
3. Overwhelming lack of disaggregated data by ethnic background,
   age and sex

    The FRA suggests that EU institutions
• Strengthen the provision for positive measures to groups
  recognised as excluded or disadvantaged (EP Res. 2005)
• Develop a comprehensive EU Framework Strategy on Roma and
  Traveller inclusion with a housing component based on the EU
  Council Conclusions and the Common Basic Principles on the
  Inclusion of the Roma
• Consider to condition the allocation of Structural Funds related to
  housing on Member States’ adoption and implementation of
  comprehensive action programmes based on equal opportunity
  and desegregation plans

   The FRA suggests that Member States
• Make full use of EU legal instruments (e.g. Racial Equality
  Directive), and EU financial and coordination instruments in
  developing inclusion policies for Roma and Travellers
• Resource Equality Bodies adequately to allow them to collect
  complaints efficiently and task them to support discrimination
  victims in legal proceedings
• Explore how to strengthen multilevel governance based on the
  effective partnership particularly with local and regional
  authorities, equality bodies, and NGOs
• Strengthen public awareness of relevant laws and rights

 Thank you for your attention
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