Discrimination against Somalis in housing

Discrimination against Somalis in housing

Written by: Harmit Athwal

A new report into the needs and experiences of the Somali community and its access to housing in Britain has found that Somalis are often discriminated against and do not receive good levels of service provision.

The report by Ian Cole and David Robinson at the Centre for Regional and Economic Research at Sheffield Hallam University analysed the housing experiences of Somali communities living in London, Sheffield, Liverpool, Bristol, Ealing and Tower Hamlets. These communities were established in inner-city areas, characterised by high levels of unemployment and crime, and poor quality housing. Some communities, are long-standing and well established as a result of migration to ports such as Liverpool and Cardiff in the early 20th century and others were established as a result of recent migration after civil conflict. The report found that Somali communities’ problems were being further compounded by the failure of agencies to understand their specific needs.

Key findings
  • Racial harassment is a ‘frequent and widespread experience… especially in the current context of increasing mistrust and suspicion of asylum seekers.’ There was an under-reporting of racial incidents because of language barriers and a lack of knowledge about available support services.
  • Somalis encountered difficulties when trying to access education or training.
  • There was a high incidence of mental and physical health problems often related to other factors such as the provision of inadequate and inappropriate accommodation for refugees.

The report concludes there is a need for funding for housing specifically targeted to meet the needs of the Somali community.

Related links


Somali Housing Experiences in England by Ian Cole and David Robinson, Centre for Regional and Economic Research at Sheffield Hallam University. Copies of the report can be downloaded in PDF format from the Centre for Regional and Economic Research

The Institute of Race Relations is precluded from expressing a corporate view: any opinions expressed are therefore those of the authors.

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