Housing

Austria

Country Report: Housing Last updated: 05/05/23

Author

Asylkoordination Österreich Visit Website

Refugees are entitled to Basic Care during the first 4 months after recognition of their status.[1] After this period, they have access to the general welfare system and can obtain basic care and social assistance similarly to any other Austrian citizen. There are in general no longer stay options or other specialised accommodation for vulnerable groups or young people who have recently turned 18. Beneficiaries of subsidiary protection have no temporal limit on receiving Basic Care but are excluded from the general welfare system. No preconditions for receiving Basic Care are applied.

Basic Care consists of organised accommodation in inns, boarding houses, reception centres of NGOs or of the respective federal province, or a rent subsidy when an asylum seeker rents a flat themselves. The prevailing form of Basic Care is organised accommodation, except for Vienna where private accommodation prevails (see Reception Conditions: Forms and Levels).

As of the end of December 2023, 20,629 asylum seekers, 3,804 people with refugee status and 10,719 beneficiaries of subsidiary protection were receiving basic benefits (in addition to Ukrainians):

Beneficiaries of international protection in Basic Care: 31 December 2023
Province / Federal centre Refugee status Subsidiary protection Total
Burgenland 32 92 124
Carinthia 67 144 211
Lower Austria 221 284 505
Upper Austria 137 355 492
Salzburg 78 180 258
Styria 147 503 650
Tyrol 116 182 298
Vorarlberg 148 231 379
Vienna 2,751 8,725 11,476
Total 3,804 10,719 14,523

Source: Ministry of Interior, Basic Care statistics, unpublished.

 

Support after the end of Basic Care is insufficient. Although there are some consultation services which provide advice on finding a flat and concluding a rental contract, there are no financial resources available to actively help beneficiaries to find accommodation. This is particularly concerning given that prices on the real estate market have significantly risen. Recipients of Basic Care, which includes beneficiaries of subsidiary protection in several provinces, cannot find adequate accommodation with a subsidy of € 165 per month for renting a flat. Families in Basic Care receive € 330. Financial support for refugees and beneficiaries of subsidiary protection is a slightly higher amount as in this regime the size of a family is taken into account and it is possible to either completely subsidise the rent (as is the case in Tyrol) or receive subsidies for the rent.

In Lower Austria, the authorities regularly send letters to beneficiaries of subsidiary protection asking them to move out of basic care. In reality, this means a lot of pressure for people with subsidiary protection. The care teams intervene and send social reports to the authorities explaining why the beneficiaries of protection should not lose basic care benefits, especially families with school-age children or families with sick people who benefit from staying in a basic care facility. On the other hand, there is a trend of people with subsidiary protection moving to Vienna because the community is bigger there, there are greater chances of finding a job and there is entitlement to social benefits.[2]

A total of 15,055 people under the jurisdiction of the federal government and the province were housed in Lower Austria as of the investigation’s cut-off date (November 21, 2022).

Age Group Number of people
> 7 y.o. 1,470
From 7 to 14 y.o. 2,192
From 14 to 18 y.o. 1,928
From 18 to 24 y.o. 1,378
From 24 to 60 y.o. 6,431
< 60 y.o. 1,656
TOTAL: 15,055

 

In Vorarlberg, refugees who receive a minimum income do not receive a housing compensation but are transferred to landlords directly through the social department. Single refugees receive the minimum income only if they live in shared flats. If a person entitled to asylum decides to live in their own apartment, the compensation will amount only to the costs of a shared room. Single persons receive up to € 503 for their rent. This is significantly higher compared to other federal states, where only € 210 are granted.[3] In Tyrol, housing costs are capped and are awarded as a contribution in kind. The benefits are based on the real estate price table. In Vorarlberg, there have been cuts in the allowances of people residing in shared apartments: they now receive € 473 instead of the previous € 633.

Moreover, refusing a flat assigned by the country’s social department may result in the loss of housing benefits. This measure should also help the city of Innsbruck, which is often preferred by refugees as a place of residence after Vienna.

Refugees can also apply for social housing when they are at risk of becoming homeless. Nevertheless, the waiting lists are long and an emergency flat is rarely available. Certain conditions (e.g. proof of residence of 2 years at the same address) applicable to the city of Vienna make it more difficult to get a cheaper community flat. In many regions of Austria, there are no social housing schemes available. Refugees are usually excluded from the second possibility of cheap accommodations, co-operative flats, because they have to contribute to the construction cost and they lack the necessary resources.[4]

In Upper Austria, the Landesrat responsible for integration has announced that subsidised housing will also be available to recognised refugees as long as they show sufficient efforts to cope with the social emergency, such as registering to the Labour Market Service.[5]

In Styria, Caritas has developed a project to finance housing costs of asylum seekers.[6] A major hurdle is the deposit that refugees cannot afford when they have to move out of the basic care 4 months after their protection has been granted. Caritas Styria offers persons benefitting from a protection status or holding a humanitarian residence permit interest-free loan guarantees. This is granted, however, only after verification of the financial situation and must be repaid in individually agreed rates.

Experience shows that persons benefitting from a protection status often change their flat in the first year(s) after recognition and the costs for rent are much higher than those prescribed by law. The introduction of a time limited Residence Permit of 3 years for refugees has also been criticised by NGOs and experts as it makes it more difficult to rent a flat without perspective to stay.

As a result of the Basic Social Welfare Act, this allowance will be increased to around EUR 6,322 in 2023 and is available to every beneficiary. Additionally, only after a continuous three-year benefit period can residential assets be safeguarded in the land register.

A study conducted by the Technical University of Vienna found that, due to several obstacles, refugees are extensively excluded from the benefit of municipal accommodations in practice and beneficiaries of the subsidiary protection do not have access to municipal housing at all. Cases of exploitation and discrimination in the private sector have also been reported. A worrying informal sub-market has emerged, offering housing at inflated prices, such as sleeping places – that are not even real rooms – that cost about € 200 to € 350 per month.[7] Facilities for homeless persons are also sometimes visited by refugees. 

When demonstrating the eligibility criteria, refugees from Ukraine might get Municipal Housing (Gemeindewohnung) or Cooperative Flats (Genossenschaftswohnung). Different laws apply in different parts of Austria as to the qualifying requirements for cooperative apartments, subsidised housing, and municipal housing.

In order to submit housing benefits, a refugee has to submit an application to receive it.

 

 

 

[1] Article 2 (1) (6) Grundversorgungsvereinbarung.

[2] asylkoordination österreich, nationwide NGO survey on basic services Dec 2021/Jan 2022.

[3] Der Standard, ‚Vorarlberg und Tirol beschließen Westlösung für Mindestsicherung‘, 17 January 2017, available in German at: https://bit.ly/2tkJb83.

[4] Meeting at asylkoordination österreich, partner organisations involved in basic care provision in the provinces.

[5] OÖ Nachrichten, ‚Leere Wohnungen für Asylberechtigte‘, 27 October 2018, available in German at: https://bit.ly/2SUhaT6; Land Oberösterreich, ‚Hilfe zur Unterstützung des Lebensunterhalts und des Wohnbedarfs‘, available in German at: https://bit.ly/3aX9ULK.

[6] Caritas Steiermark Flüchtlingsbetreung, available in German at: https://bit.ly/38co7T9.

[7] Anita Aigner, Housing entry pathways of refugees in Vienna, a city of social housing, Housing Studies, 2018,
available at: https://bit.ly/2N7A57J.

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection
  • ANNEX I – Transposition of the CEAS in national legislation