Housing policy needs to ‘promote greater community cohesion’

The Chartered Institute of Housing has called for a more
constructive government policy towards asylum seekers and refugees,
positive action to change their public image and the development of
good practice by all housing agencies.

In a report out this week, the CIH calls for community cohesion to
be adopted as a key aim of government policy on asylum and wants
politicians to stop referring to asylum seekers as a problem.

Positive media treatment of asylum seekers – a key aim of Community
Care’s Right to Refuge campaign – should also be encouraged to
highlight successful examples of integration, the report

The CIH says the measures under section 55 of the Nationality,
Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 to deny support from the National
Asylum Support Service to asylum seekers who fail to apply for
asylum immediately should be reversed.

The call follows last week’s High Court ruling that the human
rights of three asylum seekers were breached when they were forced
to sleep rough after being denied support from Nass under section
55 (news, page 6, 7 August).

The CIH report urges the government to avoid national dispersal
arrangements that exacerbate integration problems by placing asylum
seekers in deprived areas or locating accommodation centres in
rural areas with few facilities.

Instead, it calls on Nass to develop a housing-based dispersal
system that provides good quality accommodation and support

Housing associations are also encouraged to provide accommodation
for asylum seekers in appropriate areas and not just where
properties are difficult to let. As high numbers of asylum seekers
in some places can place a severe strain on services, these areas
should be considered for new facilities to avoid the impression
asylum seekers are getting preferential treatment, the CIH

The report, produced in association with the government’s community
cohesion unit, also urges asylum seekers to be allowed to work
while their claims are being processed.

– Providing a Safe Haven from www.homeoffice.gov.uk/docs2/cc_asylumbriefing.pdf

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