Types of accommodation

Austria

Country Report: Types of accommodation Last updated: 08/04/21

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With exception of the total number of places in private accommodation, all figures above refer strictly to the federal centres, as it is not possible to provide figures on the number of apartments and houses used at provincial level to accommodate asylum seekers. Asylum seekers are accommodated in facilities of different size and capacity. A quota system requires the federal provinces to provide places according to their population.[1]

Each of the 9 federal provinces has a department responsible for administering Basic Care. This department searches suitable accommodation places, and concludes contracts with NGOs or landlords, owners of hotels or inns, to provide a certain number of places and Basic Care provisions. Regular meetings of the heads of the provincial departments and the Ministry of Interior take place to evaluate the functioning of the Basic Care system and the level of financial compensation for the federal provinces. According to the Basic Care agreement between the State and the federal provinces, the latter have to cover 40% of the expenditures, while the Ministry has to pay 60% of the costs. This share of the Ministry of Interior could rise to 100% if an asylum application is not processed within due time. It remains to be seen how the system will change following the establishment of the new Federal Agency (BBU).

Federal reception capacity

The initial reception centre serves as centre for asylum seekers with an admissibility procedure likely to be rejected. The 2 initial reception centres in Traiskirchen and in Thalham are therefore reserved for asylum seekers in the admissibility procedure and for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children as long as they are not transferred to reception facilities of the federal provinces. Instead of streaming all asylum seekers to the initial reception centre, they should have their first accommodation in the so-called distribution centres (VQ), which should be set up in 7 federal provinces. Traiskirchen serves as a VQ too. The federal centre in Fieberbrunn is used for rejected asylum seekers, and another former federal centre  at the Vienna airport serves as a departure centre. NGOs reported that the federal centre in Graz-Andritzhosts rejected asylum-seekers too. The Ministry of Interior announced in October 2018 the closure of 7 of the remaining 20 reception facilities, including the special care centre in Upper Austria and the distribution center in Styria-Graz Puntigam. Due to the low number of asylum seekers two more federal centres have been closed in 2019. As of July 2019, there were thus 11 federal reception centres with a total capacity of 2,203 places, out of which only 868 were in use in July 2019. The average cost per person accommodated in a federal centre is €183 per day.[2] As of December 2021, the maximum capacity in federal facilities was 4,338. This number is an absolute maximum capacity that does not take Covid-19-restrictions into account.[3]

Newly arrived asylum seekers stay only 4 to 5 days in the distribution centres according to information from the Centre in Ossiach. From January to May 2018, asylum seekers spent an average of 19 days in the course of the basic admission procedure in federal care facilities.[4] The number of asylum seekers in the initial reception centre of Traiskirchen, which reportedly has inhuman living conditions,[5] has also sharply decreased, from 5,000 asylum seekers to about 500 at the end of 2018.[6] At the end of 2020, around 1,200 persons, among which around 1,000 were asylum seekers, were accommodated in Traiskirchen.[7]

As already mentioned, as of December 2020, there were 13 federal centres hosting a total of 1,750 persons.[8] The law allows the Ministry of Interior to open reception facilities in federal provinces that do not fulfil the reception quota. Such centres may be opened even when the facility is not adapted to host asylum seekers, provided that certain special safeguards are ensured such as fire protection and related building regulations.[9] Since 2018, however, such centres were not needed. During the first lockdown, the provinces protested against the opening of federal Centres in Leoben (Styria). Due to the protests, the Ministry of Interior did not open any new centres in provinces during the first lockdown but reported challenges in accommodating asylum applicants, since COVID-19 prevention measures require lower occupancy and separate accommodation. All newly arriving persons were tested twice and isolated until the test result was made available. As of 25 September, 118 asylum applicants were tested positive for COVID-19. A positive test result implies that many parts of the entire facility cannot be used for the duration of the quarantine. The Ministry of Interior opened new reception facilities in Villach (Carinthia) in May 2020, as well as in Vienna.[10]

In case of larger numbers of arrivals and difficulties in transferring asylum seekers to reception facilities in the federal provinces, the Federal State may host asylum seekers even after their asylum application is admitted to the regular asylum procedure for a maximum period of 14 days.

Reception capacity at provincial level

In practice, most federal provinces do not provide the number of places required under their quota, which is partly due to the fact that provinces such as Vienna exceed their quota (almost double of the quota agreed). At the end of 2020, the entire Austrian reception system hosted a total of 26,659 persons[11] (including beneficiaries of international protection and rejected asylum applicants), out of which 14,214 (2019: 18,313) were asylum applicants. The distribution across the federal provinces is detailed in Freedom of Movement. While Vienna continues to exceed its relative reception share, other federal provinces have had several empty places. Consequently, several centres have free capacity and are planned to close as they are not able to cover the general costs of rent, heating, staff etc.

NGOs or owners of hostels and inns, who run reception centres under the responsibility of the federal provinces, have contracts with the governmental department of the respective federal provinces. While in some federal provinces almost all asylum seekers are placed in reception centres (e.g. 82% of asylum seekers in Styria and 94% in Burgenland), private accommodation is more often used in others states such as Vienna, where 71% of applicants lived in private accommodation as of 1 January 2019.[12] More recent figures are not available.

 

 

[1] Article 1(4) GVV-Art.15a.

[2] Ministry of Interior, Answer to parliamentary request, 3837/AB, XXVI. GP, 16 August 2019, available in German at: https://bit.ly/2PH2WCd.

[3] Ministry of Interior, Answer to parliamentary request 5038/AB, XXVII. GP, 17 March 2021

[4] Ibid.

[5] Tages-Anzeiger, ‘Endstation Traiskirchen’, 30 June 2015, available in German at: http://bit.ly/1Zdotj3.

[6] NÖN.at, Flüchtlingsbewegung als Herkulesaufgabe, 20 November 2018; available in German at: https://bit.ly/2GvcayP.

[7] Ministry of Interior, Care information system, unpublished.

[8] Ministry of Interior, Answer to parliamentary request 5038/AB, XXVII. GP, 17 March 2021.

[9] Bundesverfassungsgesetz: Unterbringung und Aufteilung von hilfs- und schutzbedürftigen Fremden. BGBl 120, 28 September 2015, available at: http://bit.ly/1JdszhK.

[10] Fundamental Rights Agency, Migration: Key fundamental rights concerns – Quarterly bulletin 4, 2020, https://bit.ly/3cMWnZH.

[11]  Ministry of Interior, answer to parliamentary request 5038/AB, XXVII. GP, 17 March 2021

[12] Information provided by the federal provinces.

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