There are no active schemes providing housing to BIPs. Persons need to secure private accommodation on their own. This is often a difficult task, due to language barriers and financial constraints, related to high levels of unemployment, high rent prices and the extent of assorted allowances. In 2021, securing private accommodation remained difficult for refugees who have recently been granted protection, as well as refugees living in the community. This is due to the extremely high rent prices that continued to increase throughout the year, making it harder to identify appropriate accommodation, as well as the reluctance on the landlords’ side to rent properties to refugees, even when they have a regular income. Although instances of homelessness are much more frequent among asylum seekers, BIPs also face this risk and assistance and guidance are required in order to secure shelter.
BIPs have a right to apply for financial aid through the national Guaranteed Minimum Income (GMI) scheme, which may include a rent allowance. However, in order to apply for the rent allowance a specific property must already have been contracted. In addition, rent deposits are not covered through the GMI scheme. Furthermore, throughout 2021 and in 2022 examination of GMI applications including the rental allowance reached or passed 12 months; even in cases of vulnerable persons or homeless persons it is rare the application is examined faster. During the examination period, an emergency allowance is provided which varies from district to district and is extremely low, at about €100-150 for one person per month and approximately €150-280 for a family per month. The amount cannot be determined in advance and depends on the amount that is provided to the Welfare Office every month by the Ministry of Labour, Welfare and Social Insurance. Furthermore, the examination of the emergency application takes approximately one to two weeks and is subject to the approval of the supervisor of the welfare office. The application is valid only for one month and must be submitted every month, until the decision for the GMI is issued. The delays in examination of GMI applications have a serious negative impact on living standards and integration efforts and in some instances lead to homelessness.
Regarding BIPs residing in the Reception Centre, there is no set time frame in which they must leave the Centre once they have received international protection, however persons are informed and urged by the Asylum Service to expedite their transition to the community. There have been no cases of people evicted out of the Reception Centre without any housing arrangement. As the majority of people will not be able to secure employment immediately after receiving international protection, almost all persons will need to apply for financial aid through the national Guaranteed Minimum Income (GMI) scheme. Efforts have been made to prioritise GMI applications for beneficiaries who are still residing in the Reception Centre. In practice, however, several months elapse before people are able to move out of the Reception Centre. This is partly because the GMI scheme does not provide amounts for housing, unless a specific property has already been identified and contracted. Moreover, it also due to the sharp increase of rent prices, the fact that rent deposits are not covered through the GMI scheme and the fact that most residents will not be able to secure a job on-time.
In 2020, a procedure to accommodate the transition of persons receiving international protection from the Reception Centre into the community was proposed, which included the provision of financial aid/pocket money given directly to the persons; two-month’s rent allowance in advance; the provision of accommodation for one week in a hotel in case they are not able to find accommodation before leaving the Centre; and informing the SWS of the persons moving into the community so as to monitor their integration. Although there were some advances in 2020 regarding the proposed transitional procedure, due to COVID-19, it has not been implemented to date.
Efforts to resume the procedure were made in 2021, but progress was limited due to obstacles related to identifying accommodation in the community, delays with issuance of residence permit, as well as GMI application and opening bank accounts. Currently, the high rent prices and difficulties in accessing jobs deem transition from the centre challenging and although a number of BIPs managed to transfer in the community, a comprehensive, official transition plan is yet to be implemented. At the end of 2020, out of the total number of residents, approximately 20 had international protection status, whereas in 2021 the number was closer to 30. At the end of 2022, 10 BIPs were residing in the Centre.
However, there is always a number of BIPs residing in Kofinou Reception Centre, indicating that transitioning out of the centre remains challenging.
 RICS, Cyprus Property Index 2022 Q4, available at: https://bit.ly/3kJA8f4.
 Information obtained by CyRC.