Housing and employment for post-2014 migrants: Lessons from small and medium-sized towns and rural areas

Whole-COMM’s new policy brief tackles post-2014 migrants’ access to housing and employment in small municipalities and provides recommendations for local, national, and European stakeholders. The brief is based on Work Package 4 document analysis and interviews conducted in 40 localities in eight EU countries.

Employers all over the continent lament their increasing inability to find workers in a historically tight labour market. However, as shown by Whole-COMM Work Package 4, severe housing crises affect not only Europe’s major cities but also many small and medium sized towns and even some rural areas, which significantly limits EU countries’ capacity to receive and accommodate them.

As small municipalities play an increasing role in migrants and refugees’ reception, national governments should consider facilitating access to housing, by taking into account specific reception capabilities of smaller towns and rural areas. When implementing integration and redistribution policies in small municipalities, factors such as size, local politics and available resources distributions should be considered and addressed specifically.

Smaller municipalities should also be invited to participate in deliberative fora and networks in European policymaking on integration and be informed about support measures and funding that is available to them on the European level. Support measures should be adapted to the specific needs and constraints of small towns and rural areas, including potential barriers in accessing EU funding.

Whole-COMM’s policy brief also finds that exclusionary policies are equally and sometimes even more relevant than those aiming to facilitate access. National governments should not only improve reception and integration but also minimize institutional exclusion, ensuring equal access to social housing or facilitating access to the labour market, e.g. in terms of work permits, homologation of titles, training and language courses.

Accommodation and long-term integration are essential for putting the basis for good community relations, which is key to enhancing social cohesion and preventing the emergence of anti-immigrant discourses.

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