They don’t want them streaming into Helsinki……

So they want to spread the misery among the rest of us.

Rent incentive encourages asylum recipients to settle near reception centres

The Finnish government has rolled out an incentive scheme aimed at encouraging asylum seekers who’ve received resident permits to remain in locations close to the reception centres that housed them. The state hopes that the promise of two months’ rent and a security deposit on a rental home will help curb the flow of newcomers into major urban centres.

Avain ja seteleitä.
Image: Ismo Pekkarinen / AOP

With some 10,000 residence permits being granted to asylum seekers who began arriving in Finland last year, municipal officials are bracing for the movement of new residents from reception centres to more permanent homes. However Finnish authorities want avoid a situation where the new arrivals congregate in certain neighbourhoods, creating the potential for ghettoisation.

The government would like refugees to be spread out among the country’s municipalities, but not all locations can provide homes and refugees are not obliged to accept a home in the locations to which they are directed.

However the government has come up with what it hopes is a sturdy enough carrot to tempt refugees to stay near their reception centres: individuals who opt to move to a new home in the vicinity will get financial support.

Those who grasp the opportunity and accept the homes offered by municipal officials will immediately get income and housing support once they’ve moved. If the recommended location has no available housing, or there is a shortage, individuals will be able to stay at a reception centre while they search for a home.

However the offer will hold only if refugees find a home near the asylum seeker reception centre where they lived – in other words, near their previous lodging. In such cases, immigration authorities will draw on state funding to pay the individual’s security deposit on a rental property and at least two months’ rent.

The size of the incentive will vary, but essentially it is meant to finance settling in a moderately-priced rental. This approach will help persons who have received residence permits secure a home until they begin to receive some cash flow in the form of income support.

Hoping to curb migration to major cities

Refugees who wish to relocate to another area farther away will forgo the proposed financial benefit.

“The goal is to provide support for customers to move into homes where they will be able to continue the rental payments when they receive income support,” said Olli Snellman of the Finnish Immigration Service.

Another reason for the incentive scheme is government’s desire to distribute asylum seekers across the country.

“So that people who have received residence permits stay in their reception centre’s economic area, rather than pouring into large cities,” Snellman explained.

So far, the government’s goal of evenly distributing asylum seekers has partially succeeded. By June 6, just over 1,300 newcomers with residence permits had left the area near their reception centres. Less than half of them (552) have moved into homes offered to them in the same location. The rest have moved on independently, or with the help of reception centre officials.

Additional municipal funding earmarked in 2016

Local governments are under no obligation to agree to accept asylum seekers who have received residence permits. However once they agree to accommodate newcomers, municipalities must commit to helping refugees find rental homes, integration services, interpreter and translation services and places in special schools for minors.

Government pays municipalities for each refugee they take in. The contribution for a refugee over seven years old is 2,300 euros per year and 6,845 euros per year for children under the age of seven. Parliament has earmarked an additional 20.8 million euros in its 2016 budget for contributions to municipalities.

Over the years, the government has struggled to get local governments to accept the target number of asylum seekers. In 2013, it aimed to have municipalities take in 2,000 refugees, but just 1,169 found homes. The 2016 target is 10,000 and so far, municipalities have found homes for some 4,000.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.