Catherine Riachi & Hassan Javed (Center for the Study of Democracy, Sofia, Bulgaria)
Migrants across the world arrive in Europe to seek better lives from civil wars and economic and political instabilities, often perceiving the continent as a beacon of prosperity, health, and safety. However, the realities of migrant housing mismatch with their optimistic ideals. In comparison to EU nationals, foreign migrants are disproportionately exposed to poor living conditions – such as mould, inadequate fire safety, and overcrowding – and face exploitation in the housing market with overburdening rent prices and abrupt evictions.
Through a combination of government allocation policies and economic pressures, migrants are commonly forced to live in underserved neighbourhoods where lack of investment in public infrastructure, healthcare, and education, as well as high petty crimes rates, often take place. These neighbourhoods tend to be characterised by poor public transit connectivity, spatial segregation and ghettoization processes, which severely impact migrants’ access to social and economic opportunities as well as their right to vote. As such, this policy brief discusses how inadequate housing conditions result in a mismatch between migrants’ expectations of Europe and their lived experiences, and what can be done about it.