Types of accommodation


Country Report: Types of accommodation Last updated: 30/11/20


Forum Réfugiés – Cosi Visit Website

Decisions for admission in accommodation places for asylum seekers, as well as for exit from or modification of the place of residence, are taken by OFII after it has consulted with the Director of the place of accommodation. The specific situation of the asylum seeker has to be taken into account.

Accommodation facilities for asylum seekers under the national reception scheme (dispositif national d’accueil, DNA) are:

(a)   Accommodation centres for asylum seekers (CADA);

(b)   Emergency accommodation for asylum seekers (HUDA, AT-SA, PRAHDA, CAO);

(c)   Reception and administrative situation examination centres (CAES).


Asylum seekers accommodated in these facilities receive a certification of address (attestation de domiciliation).[1] This certification is valid for one year and can be renewed if necessary. It allows the asylum seeker to open a bank account and to receive mail.

According to the national reception scheme principle, an asylum seeker who has registered his or her claim in a specific Prefecture might not necessarily be accommodated in the same region. The asylum seeker has to present him or herself to the accommodation place proposed or the region assigned by OFII within 5 days. If not, the offer is considered to be refused and the asylum seeker will not be entitled to any other material reception conditions.

The management of reception centres is subcontracted to the semi-public company Adoma or to NGOs that have been selected through a public call for tenders, such as Forum réfugiés – Cosi, France terre d’asile, l’Ordre de Malte, Coallia, French Red Cross etc. These centres fall under the French social initiatives (action sociale) and are funded by the State. Their financial management is entrusted to the Prefect of the Département.

As of the end of 2019 the national reception scheme had the following capacity across the different regions:

Capacity of the national reception scheme: 31 December 2019






Auvergne Rhône-Alpes





Bourgogne Franche-Comté















Grand Est





Hauts de France





Ile de France










Nouvelle Aqutaine










Pays de la Loire





Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur










Source: Ministry of Interior


In 2019 the number of asylum seekers accommodated remained far below the number of persons registering an application: at the end of the year, the Ministry of Interior stated that 52% of asylum seekers eligible to material reception conditions were effectively accommodated.[2] However, according to calculations of the author of this report, this rate did not exceed 50%. In absolute numbers, this represents a total of 151,386 asylum seekers who were eligible for accommodation in 2019, for a total of 98,564 places available. Out of the available places, only around 70,000 were occupied by asylum seekers, while the other places were occupied by rejected asylum seekers and/or refugees and/or not occupied at all.

In 2018, only 44% of asylum seekers registered by Prefectures in 2018 effectively obtaining accommodation. ECRE’s report on the reception conditions of refugees and asylum seekers in Europe demonstrates that France has consistently fallen short of its obligations to provide accommodation to all asylum seekers on its territory, despite a considerable expansion of its reception infrastructure and a proliferation of types of accommodation.[3] Following figure provides an overview of the evolution of first-time asylum applicants registered with OFPRA and capacity in France:  

This means that a substantial number of applicants were left out of accommodation every year. Therefore, France has an established track record of non-compliance with Articles 17(2) and 18(1) of the recast Reception Conditions Directive, requiring reception conditions which ensure an adequate standard of living for applicants.[4]

In practice, it remains the case that many reception centres have been organised to receive families or couples, thereby making it difficult for single men or women, to be accommodated. Moreover, if the asylum seeker has not succeeded in getting access to a reception centre before lodging his or her appeal, the chances of benefitting from one at the appeal stage are very slim. In case of a shortage of places, asylum seekers may have no other solutions than relying on night shelters or living on the street. The implementation of the national reception scheme intends to avoid as much as possible cases where asylum seekers are homeless or have to resort to emergency accommodation in the long run, yet gaps in capacity persist.

In 2019, 13% of the places in accommodation centers were occupied by individuals who were no longer authorised to occupy these places. Out of them, 8% were rejected asylum seekers and 5% were beneficiaries of protection staying longer than the authorised period. [5]

While in 2019 the Ministry of Interior opened an additional 1,000 places in CADA and 2,500 places in emergency reception centres,[6] no new places will be opened for asylum seekers in 2020.


 Reception centres for asylum seekers (CADA)


Asylum seekers having registered a claim are eligible to stay in reception centres. Asylum seekers under a Dublin procedure are excluded from accessing these centres. CADA can be either collective or individualised housing, within the same building or scattered in several locations. Reception centres can be either collective or individualised housing, within the same building or scattered in several locations. A place in the centres for asylum seekers is offered by OFII once the application has been made.

At the end of 2018, out of a total 41,370 places in CADA, 4% were vacant, 16% were beneficiaries of international protection and 13% were rejected asylum seekers (in authorised stay or not).[7] More recent statistics are not available.


 Emergency reception centres


Given the lack of places in regular reception centres for asylum seekers, the State authorities have developed emergency schemes. Different systems exist:

1.     A decentralised emergency reception scheme: emergency accommodation for asylum seekers (hébergement d’urgence dédié aux demandeurs d’asile, HUDA), counting 42,506 emergency accommodation places at the end of 2019. Capacities provided by this scheme evolve quickly depending on the number of asylum claims and capacities of regular reception centres. A part of this places are in hotel rooms.

2.     Temporary reception – asylum office (accueil temporaire – service de l’asile, AT-SA), is an emergency scheme that was removed in 2019 and turned into the abovementioned HUDA.

3.     Reception and accommodation programme for asylum seekers (programme regional d’accueil et d’hébergement des demandeurs d’asile, PRAHDA), managed at national level. It consists of housing, in most cases in former hotels, for 5,351 persons who have applied for asylum or who wish to do so and who have not been registered.

4.     Reception and orientation centres (centres d’accueil et d’orientation, CAO), initially created to accommodate asylum seekers evacuated from Calais. The mission of these centres consists in sheltering migrants, supporting them in submitting an asylum claim and providing them with material, administrative and social support.[8] Asylum seekers are not supposed to be provided with legal assistance. Indeed, since they are identified as willing to submit an asylum claim, they have to be directed towards the regular procedure and the corresponding accommodation centres.In the vast majority of CAO, asylum seekers must be provided with legal assistance since there is a shortage of places in the regular accommodation facilities. This assistance is provided in some CAO, depending on the terms negotiated between the managing organisation and the State. At the end of 2019, 3,969 places of CAO were still open, but all of them should be transformed into HUDA before the end of June 2020.

Asylum seekers who fall under the Dublin procedure in France can in theory benefit from emergency accommodation up until the notification of the decision of transfer, while Dublin returnees are treated as regular asylum seekers and therefore benefit from the same reception conditions granted to asylum seekers under the regular or the accelerated procedure. In practice, however, many persons subject to Dublin procedures live on the streets or in squats.


Reception and administrative situation examination centres (CAES)


A new form of accommodation has emerged in 2017 Reception and Administrative Situation Examination Centres (centres d’accueil et d’examen de situation administrative, CAES) combine accommodation with an examination of the person’s administrative situation, in order to direct the individual to other accommodation depending on whether he or she falls within an asylum procedure, a Dublin procedure or a return procedure. Almost 3,000 places in such shelters have been created in 2018 and 150 new places in 2019. In some regions, CAES are designed for people coming from camps, while in others they serve vulnerable asylum seekers whose application has been registered, pending referral to CADA or emergency reception.


Asylum seekers left without accommodation


Despite the increase in reception capacity and creation of new forms of centres, a number of regions continue to face severe difficulties in terms of providing housing to asylum seekers. As stated above, only about 52% of asylum seekers eligible for material reception conditions were accommodated at the end of 2019.

In Paris, there are still several informal camps as of early 2019, despite many dismantlement operations by the authorities. In January 2020, authorities lead the 60th dismantlement operation since 2015 and 1,436 migrants have thus been accommodated in emergency centers following the operation.[9] During the previous operation in November 2019, about 1,600 migrants were accommodated. Among foreign nationals living in these camps there were irregular migrants but also asylum seekers, many of them in a Dublin procedure. According to the Prefecture, 15,640 migrants have been accommodated in emergency centres in 2018.[10]

In Calais, after the steps taken by the French government in 2015 and 2016,[11] the makeshift camps have been dismantled and people have been directed to CAO. The dismantlement of the Calais camps has been operated in several stages. A first operation took place by the end of 2015, during which 700 people were sheltered.[12] In the steps of this initiative, the French government has defined the modalities of accommodation required for the CAO.[13] The southern part of the camp was destroyed in February 2016, in a context heavy of tensions.[14] In October 2016 the government finalised the operation of evacuation and channelled the people living in the slums to CAO.[15] 5,243 migrants had been directed to 197 CAO at that time.  In July 2017, the Council of State ruled that state deficiencies in Calais exposed migrants to degrading treatment and enjoined the State to set up several arrangements for access to drinking water and sanitary facilities.[16]

Nevertheless, hundreds of migrants are still living in makeshift camps in Calais area as of early 2020. NGOs stated that 850 migrants were in Calais and surroundings at in January 2020.[17] In a report published in December 2018, the Ombudsman denounced a "degradation" of the health and social situation of migrants living in camps in the north of France, with “unprecedented violations of fundamental rights”.[18]

On 21 June 2019, the Council of State ordered the northern prefecture of France to adopt important sanitary measures to support around 700 migrants living near a sport hall of the commune of Grande-Synthe. The application to proceedings for interim measures had been filed by 9 civil-society organisations and the commune of Grande-Synthe. It demonstrated that both the inhumane living conditions of the migrants and the failure to act of the Government were a violation of the migrant’s fundamental rights.[19] Following the decision of the Council of State, the French prefect had 8 days to adopt numerous sanitary measures such as installing water points, showers and toilets, but also to provide information to migrants on their rights in a language they understand.

The organisations Human Rights Observers and L’Auberge des Migrants based in Calais have also published a report in 2019 demonstrating that police evictions have increased to record levels, with more than 800 forced evictions since August 2018. It also describes the terrible living conditions on site, the loss and damage of belongings, the abusive practices and the arbitral arrests that migrants regularly face.[20]

In some other cities (Nantes, Grande Synthe, Metz) migrants often live in the street. Some of them are asylum seekers eligible for accommodation centers but not housed due to the lack of places.


Evolution of the capacity of the different types of accommodation


As demonstrated in ECRE’s comparative report on housing in Europe,[21] the capacity of the different types of accommodation have evolved as follows in the last four years:

Although the capacity of CADA – the main form of reception for asylum seekers – has been steadily developed throughout the years, the above figure shows that France has exponentially increased the capacity of emergency accommodation through the creation of PRAHDA and the expansion of local HUDA from 11,829 places in mid-2016 to 42,506 places at the end of 2019.[22]

This means that the emergency accommodation network (AT-SA, PRAHDA, CAO, HUDA) is nearly as large in size as the CADA and formally forms part of the national reception system. It appears therefore that “emergency accommodation” in France no longer serves the purpose of temporarily covering shortages in the normal reception system. In fact, as already explained, it is the default form of accommodation for certain categories of asylum seekers such as those under a Dublin procedure, since they are excluded altogether from CADA.[23]

[1]  Article R.744-1 to R.744-4 Ceseda.

[2]  French Government, Budget law 2020, Annex. September 2019, available in French at : https://bit.ly/2RJsNLb.

[3]  ECRE, Housing out of reach? The reception of refugees and asylum seekers in Europe, April 2019, 13, available at: https://bit.ly/2RK0ivp, 13.

[4]  Ibid., 14.

[5]  French Government, Budget law 2020, Annex. September 2019. available in French at : https://bit.ly/2RJsNLb, 24.

[6]  Ministry of Interior, Circular NOR: INTV1900071J, 31 December 2018, available in French at: https://bit.ly/2Syc2E8, Annex 1.2.

[7]  OFII, 2018 Activity report, 27.

[8]  Circular NORINTK15201955, 20 November 2015, available in French at: http://bit.ly/2iPDGHv.

[9]  Prefecture de Police, Press release, 28 January 2020, available in French at: https://bit.ly/2UcN4uv.

[10]  Prefecture of Ile-de-France, Letter to NGOs, 12 February 2019, available in French at: https://bit.ly/2TaGWmc.

[11] See also the previous updates of the AIDA Country Report France.

[12]  Circular NOR: INTK15201955, 20 November 2015, available in French at: http://bit.ly/2iPDGHv.

[13]  Ibid.

[14]  Le Monde, ‘Violence en marge du démantèlement partiel de la jungle de Calais’, 29 February 2016, available in French at: http://bit.ly/1LpYxho.

[15] Le Monde, ‘Jungle de Calais : le démantèlement débutera lundi à l’aube’, 21 October 2016, available in French at: http://bit.ly/2e7KqzU.

[16] Council of State, Order No 412125, 31 July 2017.

[17]  Infomigrants, ‘Opération de "mise à l’abri" à Calais après un mois d’évacuations successives’, 28 January 2020. Available in French at : https://bit.ly/38WPzoG

[18] Ombudsman, Exiles et droits fondamentaux, trois ans après le rapport Calais, 19 December 2018, available at: https://bit.ly/2GIf7uS.n practice,  in practices varies widely. er day to 25 €)ype of , 19 e  of persons selected but it appears through OFII communic

[19] France TV Info, ‘Nord : la préfecture condamnée à prendre des mesures sanitaires et à organiser des maraudes pour les migrants à Grande-Synthe’, 21 June 2019, available in French at : https://bit.ly/2w0zPTL.

[20]  The Human Rghts Observers Project, Forced Evictions in Calais and Grande-Synthe, June 2019, https://bit.ly/2KHQoK7.

[21]  ECRE, Housing out of reach? The reception of refugees and asylum seekers in Europe, April 2019, 21, available at: https://bit.ly/2RK0ivp.

[22]  Ibid.

[23]  Ibid.


Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview 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