Country Report: Housing Last updated: 03/06/21


As underlined in the reception condition chapter, Decree Law 130/2020 converted into Law 173/2020 has, at least in theory, reformed the reception system back to a single system for asylum seekers and beneficiaries of international and special protection, even if organised in progressive phases. Nevertheless, despite the reform, the SAI system is still conceived and indicated as primarily intended for beneficiaries of international protection and unaccompanied foreign minors. Other foreign nationals can only access SAI in case of available places. [1] The system remains based on the voluntarily adhesion of the municipalities. They do not have enough places to meet the reception needs of all those who are entitled to it.

ASGI claims that mainstreaming reception into the obligations of municipalities in the context of social services, in line with the Italian constitutional settlement, would have been a better solution.[2]

Stay in first reception centres and CAS

A protection status does not allow the holder to remain in first reception facilities or CAS. This creates a protection gap in practice, given the scarcity of places in the SAI-SIPROIMI. Already before the 2018 reform, some public administration offices considered that material conditions may immediately cease after the status recognition.

Although depending on the discretionary decisions of the responsible Prefectures and on bureaucratic delays, beneficiaries of international protection, after obtaining protection status, could be allowed to stay in the reception centre a few months or a few days after the notification.

Accommodation in SAI

Following the 2020 reform, accommodation of beneficiaries of international protection is properly performed in SAI system, System of accommodation and integration (Sistema di accoglienza ed integrazione) the former SPRAR established by L 189/2002. SAI is a publicly funded network of local authorities and NGOs which accommodates unaccompanied children, also under some conditions after the coming of age (see Reception of Unaccompanied Children), beneficiaries of international protection and, in case of available places, asylum seekers and people who have obtained some other residence permits for specific reasons.

Unaccompanied children have immediate access to SAI. Local authorities can also accommodate in SAI: victims of trafficking; domestic violence and particular exploitation; persons issued a residence permit for medical treatment, or natural calamity in the country of origin, or for acts of particular civic value.[3] Moreover, Decree Law 130/2020 states that local authorities can also accommodate in these facilities asylum seekers, holders of special protection, holders of special cases protection (former humanitarian protection), [4] and adults, former unaccompanied minors, who obtained a prosecution of assistance.[5] Holders of special protection permits, in case of application of the international protection exclusion clauses[6], are excluded from the SAI.[7]

SAI system is formed by small reception structures where assistance and integration services are provided. SAI projects are run by local authorities and together with civil society actors such as NGOs. According to the Ministry of Interior Decree of 18 November 2019, the accommodation centres ensure interpretation and linguistic-cultural mediation services, legal counselling, teaching of the Italian language and access to schools for minors, health assistance, socio-psychological support in particular to vulnerable persons, training and re-training, support at providing employment, counselling on the services available at local level to allow integration locally, information on (assisted) voluntary return programmes, as well as information on recreational, sport and cultural activities.[8]

Decree Law 130/2020 introduced two different levels of services:

  • First level services: asylum seekers who are accommodated in SAI (before being granted international or special protection) will be able to benefit from “first level” services. First level services include, in addition to material reception services, health care, social and psychological assistance, linguistic-cultural mediation, the teaching of Italian language courses and legal and territorial guidance services.[9]
  • Second level services – which are only available for holders of an international or special protection status – include support for integration, job research, job orientation and professional training.[10]

In contrast to the large-scale buildings provided in Governmental centres (former CARA and CDA)  CPSA and CAS, SAI is comprised of 760 smaller-scale decentralised projects as of January 2021.[11] The projects funded a total of 30,049 accommodation places.[12] This is a decrease of the 809 projects with 31,284 places that existed at the beginning of 2020. Of those, 145 reception projects with 4,369 financed places are dedicated to unaccompanied children, while 42 reception projects with 623 financed places are destined to persons with mental disorders and disabilities.

The Decree issued on 18 November 2019[13], including the Guidelines for the Siproimi system adopted by the Ministry of Interior has not been replaced at the time of writing by a new one reflecting the actual new configuration of the SAI.

The Moi Decree of 18 November 2019 stated that reception in Siproimi lasts six months.[14]

Only in some cases, indicated by the Decree, the reception conditions could be extended with a total of six months, with adequate motivation and prior authorization. In particular, the decree allows the extension for the conclusion of expiring integration paths, or for extraordinary circumstances related to health reasons. Furthermore, the extension of six months could be authorized in case of vulnerabilities, as indicated in Article 17 of the Reception decree. In this case the request for extension must contain
the explicit indication and evidence of the vulnerability.A further six months could be granted in case of persistent serious health reasons or to allow the completion of the school year.[15]

Law Decree 130/2020 does not specifically regulate the duration of the reception in the SAI. However, it states that at the expiry of the period of stay, all the people accommodated are included in further integration paths, up to the competent municipalities but within the limits of human, instrumental and financial available resources.[16]

More in detail, with regard to beneficiaries of international protection, the National Plan drawn up by the National Coordination Table set up at the Ministry of the Interior – Department for Civil Liberties e

immigration,[17] identifies interventions about:

  • linguistic training aimed at the knowledge of Italian language at least at A1 level;
  • knowledge of the fundamental rights and duties enshrined in the Constitution of the Italian Republic;
  • orientation to essential public services;
  • orientation to job placement.[18]

Even though the accommodation system should be considered as a unique system, the withdrawal of reception conditions ruled by the Accommodation Decree only refers to first accommodation facilities.

The MoI Decree also dictated specific rules for the withdrawal of reception conditions which could be ordered in the event of:
a) serious or repeated violation of the house rules, including damages to the facilities or
or serious and violent behaviour;
b) unjustified failure to present in the structure identified by the Central Service;
c) unjustified abandonment of the facility beyond 72 hours, without prior authorization from the local   authority;
d) application to the beneficiary of the measure of pre-trial detention in prison.

The withdrawal of the reception measures is disposed by the local authority.[19]

Article 14 of Decree Law 130/2020 sets a financial invariance clause for all the changes made by the decree and, as for the SAI, it states that this also applies to any increase in places in the related projects. This implicates that the government will not put in place more resources.

Furthermore, the Decree provides that financial invariance is also ensured, where necessary, through compensatory variations in the Ministry of the Interior’s budget dedicated to the management of migratory flows.[20]

As observed by some studies,[21] this clause makes it unlikely that the SAI will actually be able to accommodate the categories of people, including asylum seekers, to whom the decree gives the right to access this system.

Access to public housing

Refugees and beneficiaries of subsidiary protection have a right to access public housing units under the same conditions as nationals.[22] The plan focused on accompaniment towards housing solutions for both those who leave CAS and those who leave SAI centres, and highlights the importance of starting measures for residence in time in order for beneficiaries to access public housing within the limits of availability in each region.

In some regions, access to public housing is subject to a minimum residence requirement on the national territory. In Friuli-Venezia Giulia, for example, access has been limited to those who can prove 5 years of uninterrupted residence in the region.

[1] Article 1 sexies (1) DL 516/1989 according to which in the SAI system, dedicated to beneficiaries of internation protection and unaccompanied minors, municipalities can also accommodated asylum seekers and holders of specified permits to stay.

[2]  According to Article 118 of the Italian Constitution, administrative functions are attributed to the municipalities. See ASGI, Manifeste illegittimita’ costituzionali delle nuove norme concernenti permessi di soggiorno per esigenze umanitarie, protezione internazionale, immigrazione e cittadinanza previste dal decreto-legge 4 ottobre 2018, n. 113, 15 October 2018, available in Italian at: https://bit.ly/2W4am3n. For a more detailed analysis, see Gianfranco Schiavone, ‘Le Prospettive Di Evoluzione Del Sistema Unico Di Asilo Nell’unione Europea E Il Sistema Di Accoglienza Italiano. Riflessioni Sui Possibili Scenari’ in Fondazione Migrantes, Il diritto d’asilo, minori rifugati e vulnerabili senza voce, Report 2017, February 2017.

[3]  Article 1 sexies (1) DL 416/1989, as amended by DL 130/2020, citing Articles 18, 18-bis, 19(2)(d-bis), 20, 22(12-quater) and 42-bis TUI. The statuses in Articles 20 and 42-bis had been inserted by Decree Law 113/2018.

[4] Ibid, mentioning Articles 1 (9) DL 113/2018 (special cases); Article 19, (1, 1.1) TUI, amended by DL 130/2020, special protection.

[5]  Article 1 sexies (1 bis) DL 416/1989, introduced by DL 130/2020.

[6]  Articles 10(2), 12 (1) (b) and (c) and 16 of the Qualification Decree.

[7]  Article 1 sexies (1) (a) DL 416/1989, as amended by DL 130/2020.

[8]  Article 34 MoI Decree 18 November 2019.

[9]  Article 1 sexies (2 bis, a) DL 416/1989,introduced by DL 130/2020.

[10]  Article 1 sexies (2 bis) DL 416/1989,introduced by DL 130/2020.

[11] SAI, I numeri del SAI, January 2021, available at: https://www.retesai.it/i-numeri-dello-sprar/

[12]  Ibid.

[13]  Decree of the Ministry of Interior, 18 November 2019, published on 18 November 2019 on Gazzetta Ufficiale, available in Italian at: https://cutt.ly/ayPqqeE.

[14]  Article 38 MoI Decree 18 November 2019.

[15]  Article 39 MoI Decree 18 November 2019.

[16] Article 5 (1) Decree Law 130/2020 converted by L 173/2020.

[17]  According to Article 29 (3) of the Qualification Decree.

[18]  Article 5 (2) Decree Law 130/2020 converted by L 173/2020.

[19]   Article 40 MoI Decree 18 November 2019.

[20] Article 14 (3) Decree Law 130/2020 converted by L 173/2020.

[21]  See Francesca Biondi Dal Monte, I percorsi di accoglienza e integrazione e il loro finanziamento, in Immigrazione, protezione internazionale e misure penali, commento al decreto legge 130/2020, conv. In L 173/2020, Pacini Giuridica.

[22] Article 29 Qualification Decree; Article 40(6) TUI.

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