In our view, housing is a human right, a hugely important factor in the settlement process and a key prerequisite for the enjoyment of health, employment, and a life of quality. But both refugee claimants and precarious migrants, including rejected asylum seekers, are particularly vulnerable to violations of their right to adequate housing.
Precarious migrants are often in an insecure housing situation, as an inability to pay rent usually results in immediate eviction. Their lack of legal status, and the criminalization of precarious migration in many countries, means that most will be unable or unwilling to challenge discriminatory or otherwise abusive rental practices and seek legal remedies.
Displaced persons and precarious migrants are particularly vulnerable to a range of other human rights violations that can then impact their right to housing.
They are particularly vulnerable to discrimination, racism and xenophobia, which can further interfere with their ability to secure sustainable and adequate living conditions. People who have been forcibly displaced will often have suffered trauma during their journey, and will have lost familiar coping strategies and support mechanisms. Often unable in practice or because of their legal status to rent adequate accommodation, many are forced to live in overcrowded and insecure conditions.These challenges are compounded by Toronto’s ongoing housing crisis, which is a long-standing problem. The shortage in shelter places and affordable rental units is not a new phenomenon but a long-standing issue resulting from a number of trends, including years of underinvestment in social housing. Rising inequality in the city also affects access to housing for refugee claimants and precarious migrants. A recent study by University of Toronto Professor David Hulchanski 1 attests that Toronto is a highly segregated city, with visible minorities (among them new and long established immigrants) concentrated in low-income neighborhoods in numbers far higher than their share of the population. Among other factors, this raises the question of discrimination and what role it plays.
Despite knowledge of these problems, the vulnerabilities of refugee claimants and precarious migrants are not given the due attention they deserve. As we found while we were collecting the information for this report, they are almost entirely absent from most government plans impacting poverty and access to housing, and from most proposals put forward by housing advocates to address the issue. At times, the studies and plans refer to the concerns of “immigrants” and “newcomers.” However, the needs of these populations are quite distinct as people are eligible for different services depending on their immigration status. You can read the complete document here: https://www.fcjrefugeecentre.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/Welcome_Home_FCJ-1.pdf