Between a Rock and a Hard Place : Navigating the Housing Pathways of Newcomers in Ireland

University essay from Malmö universitet/Institutionen för Urbana Studier (US)

Abstract: This thesis presents research into the housing pathways of newcomers in Ireland who receive status to remain in the country and come through the Irish direct provision reception system. In the global context of financialisation of housing and local context of state reliance on the private market to provide housing to all sections of society, cities in Ireland are experiencing severe housing crises like many other cities across the globe, characterised by shortage, increasing rents and persistent homelessness rates. Meanwhile, in response to increased migration and heightened border anxieties, Ireland has sought to deter forced migrants, in this case with dispersed and unattractive direct provision reception centres. What happens then to newcomers with status to remain in Ireland, an already particularly vulnerable group in the housing system, when they have to enter this system in crisis after year-long stays in dispersed reception centres? This thesis addresses this question, looking at the specific effects of the Irish housing regime, with its unique local and recognisable global characteristics, and Irish reception policy, with its particular direct provision system, on newcomers’ search for housing. For context, the historical development and current features of the Irish housing regime, as well as migration and reception policy are traced and outlined. The thesis then tracks previous literature from international and Irish settings that deals with the issue of housing for newcomers in the Global North, including the historical development of the field and its current trends. The research design makes use of a cross-sectional, mixed-method approach to achieve its objectives. Using a constructionist housing pathways framework of analysis, accompanied by important concepts from thinkers such as Lefebvre, Agamben and Bengtsson & Borevi, the research draws on a mixture of surveys and follow-up interviews to examine the constraints, structures, strategies and outcomes of households when they have been granted status to remain in Ireland and must leave reception centres and find their own housing. The research identifies identity and power as two crucial factors in the navigation of housing pathways for newcomers and shows the detrimental effect of the retreat of the state from housing provision and reliance on marketised social housing provision on the right to housing for this group. Finally, the thesis recommends potential future studies and the policy implications of the research, in light of the difficulties of finding housing through the HAP scheme reported in this research, urge caution for proposed further reliance on marketised social housing provision for newcomers.

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