Asylum seekers and refugees who have been temporarily housed in emergency accommodation throughout the UK are being blamed ‘quite unfairly and inaccurately’ for the national housing crisis.
Charities which include Shelter, Homeless Link and the Big Issue say that the housing emergency is the fault of the government, not those who have fled violence, conflict and trafficking.
Chief executive of Shelter, Polly Neate, said: “Our country is presently in the grip of a housing emergency which has been caused by the failure of successive governments to build the social homes that are much needed. It has definitely not been caused by refugees. We must stop the lies that certain groups tell in order to cause division between people and communities for their own ends. We must stand up to this hate when it is seen.
The charities’ call follows a series of incidents where far-right groups have targeted asylum seekers in temporary accommodation in hotels across the UK. In a recent post on social media, far-right activists were seen entering a hotel near Birmingham, without permission, and knocking on doors and questioning migrants regarding their circumstances. The original footage shows faces of asylum seekers, who do not have recourse to public funds.
One woman claimed that she was too afraid to leave her room following an attack on the hotel where she is staying. “They were banging on the door” she said. “I could hear shouting and I didn’t know what was happening. I have been told not to open my door or windows”. The whole experience was very traumatic.
Director of Birmingham based Baobab Women’s Project, supporting those in emergency accommodation, Sarah Taal says that asylum seekers are being unduly blamed for the social housing crisis by far-right groups.
“Asylum seekers aren’t entitled to social housing so they are not taking homes from anyone, Taal said. “What we are seeing are women too afraid to leave there accommodation because they do not know who is outside. There are members of these groups demanding to know where they are from and shouting “Why are you here”, “Who’s paying for it”. This is very concerning.
The Home Office has begun to evict asylum seekers and refugees from emergency accommodation in recent weeks. It is believed that the department is currently reviewing between 2,000 and 3,000 cases with a view to mass evictions during the next 10 weeks.
Naccom, Housing Asylum charity says that it is concerned that this new wave of evictions could see thousands of asylum seekers and refugees forced into street homelessness
Renae Mann, the charity’s national director said: “Last year alone, our members accommodated 1,270 people who had been refused asylum, and we know that capacity for the months ahead is a real concern”. “Covid-19 has also severely impacted the network’s ability to support people in challenging unfair decisions”.
The Home Office says that it gives all those who receive a negative asylum decision a grace period of 21 days to return to their country of origin while still remaining accommodated. A spokesperson said: “We work tirelessly with all local authorities and other parties in order to provide asylum seekers, who would otherwise be destitute, with suitable accommodation – as we are required to do by law.