The Constitution of the Republic of Poland stipulates in Article 52(1) that: “Everyone shall be guaranteed freedom of movement in the territory of the Republic of Poland and the choice of place of residence and stay”. This means that the beneficiaries of international protection decide independently where they will live. However, during the integration programme, lasting 12 months, the beneficiaries’ mobility is subject to restrictions – change of place of residence is allowed only in particularly justified cases (see the section on Individual Integration Programme (IPI). Polish law does not offer separate legislation regarding housing for foreigners, including beneficiaries of international protection. Beneficiaries of international protection are generally subject to the same general conditions that apply to Polish citizens. Foreigners’ rights on access to housing are limited in terms of property rights. They can purchase flats, but if they purchase land or a house, they must obtain permission from the Ministry of the Interior and Administration.
Beneficiaries of international protection are allowed to stay in the centres for 2 months after being granted a positive decision. Then when beneficiaries enter the Individual Integration Programme they are offered housing assistance (rather in the form of advice). There is a general lack of social housing for Polish nationals as well, so the situation of beneficiaries is difficult in this regard. General conditions to obtain housing under the law are hard to fulfil for beneficiaries because of their relatively short stay in Poland and mobility.
Warsaw is home to the largest number of beneficiaries of international protection living in Poland. Besides the possibility of applying for a social or communal flat from the districts on a general basis, foreigners enrolled in integration programs and requiring special housing support may also apply for a right to live in a “protected flat” run by the Warsaw Family Support Centre since 2011. The period of stay in that kind of flat should coincide with the period of implementing IPI and should not exceed 12 months but in particular cases, this stay may be extended (e.g., in the case of serious illness or during a period of time when a foreigner is waiting for a flat from the city’s housing stock). From 2011 to 2018, a total of 51 people, including 29 children – benefited from the “protected flat” housing support.
Another form of housing support for beneficiaries of international protection, which is specific to Warsaw, is the so-called “housing contest”, also organised by the Warsaw Family Support Center in cooperation with Warsaw City Hall’s Housing Office and Assistance and Social Projects Office. Foreigners who complete an IPI and do not succeed in obtaining a social or communal flat in the general procedure can participate in a contest to receive a recommendation to obtain a communal flat (since 2021, the Center can issue up to 20 recommendations per year). Annually, a special qualification commission, which consists of five representatives (two from the Warsaw Family Support Center, one each from the Housing Office, Assistance and Social Projects Office, and one from NGOs operating in the capital) evaluates applications, taking into consideration criteria such as family/financial situation but also the level of integration.
The procedure is not only to support foreigners who are in an unfavourable housing situation but also to promote those who are distinguished and involved in the implementation of the integration programs. Some municipalities provide singular flats annually, dedicated for beneficiaries.Besides Warsaw, there are cities such as Gdansk and Lublin that have some kind of special housing support programs or solutions dedicated to foreigners. For the housing opportunities for foreigners fleeing Ukraine see Temporary Protection annex to the report.
It is important to understand, that difficulty in finding adequate housing for beneficiaries is a part of a general shortage of affordable housing. According to experts, there is a shortage of about 2.1 million houses in Poland. This situation most frequently affects people with medium and low income. They neither have access to cheap mortgages nor the finances to buy the apartments. The social housing in the country estimated at 150–200 thousand premises is insufficient for the needs of the population.
Some of the key challenges related to housing which affect particularly beneficiaries of international protection include:
– the limited supply of affordable housing,
– high rental costs (especially in big cities),
– discrimination in the housing market,
– the lack of specialised housing counselling for beneficiaries of international protection,
– the risk of homelessness after the end of institutional support under the IPI.
Some researchers stress that although there is no data on the number of homeless beneficiaries of international protection, there is a high probability that the number is substantial. Stereotypes and negative attitude towards foreigners prevail. Finding accommodation for large families is even more challenging. IPI is not tailored to tackle these problems.
Another extensive study on integration from 2020 shows that housing is one of the major issues for both asylum seekers and beneficiaries of international protection in Poland. The shortage of affordable housing makes the situation of persons with international protection particularly difficult. Consequently, the lack of housing opportunities results in slowing down the process of adaptation of foreigners to the new socio-cultural conditions of the host country, and may have a negative impact on their physical and mental health. One significant reason why some individuals who receive international protection opt to leave Poland and seek better living conditions in Western European countries is the challenge of finding suitable and affordable housing. These countries may also have more extensive diaspora and support networks available.
SIP confirms that in 2022 the problem with accommodation-related discrimination of third-country nationals persisted. According to this NGO, the increasing hostility towards foreigners, fueled by prominent politicians, is not being adequately addressed by the Polish authorities. Finding an affordable flat in the market is difficult and social flats are hardly accessible, so many international protection beneficiaries are at risk of homelessness.
The situation in 2022 was additionally complicated by arrival en masse of persons from Ukraine, which made it nearly impossible to rent apartments in larger cities. (see section in TP report).
 Article 52(1) of the Constitution of the Republic of Poland.
 Article 1(1) of the Law of 24 March 1920 on the Acquisition of Immovable Properties by Foreigners [Ustawa z 24 marca 1920 o nabywaniu nieruchomości przez cudzoziemców, Dz.U. 1920 nr 31 poz. 178].
 Article 74(1)2 Law on Protecion.
 Maryla Koss-Goryszewska ‘Mieszkalnictwo’ in A. Górska, M. Koss-Goryszewska, J. Kucharczyk (eds), W stronę krajowego mechanizmu ewaluacji integracji: Diagnoza sytuacji beneficjentów ochrony międzynarodowej w Polsce (Instutut Spraw Publicznych 2019), available (in Polish) at: https://bit.ly/2w3NkBS, 27.
 Ibidem, 29.
 Program “protected flat” [‘mieszkanie chronione’] was established on the basis of the Ordinance no 47/2011 from 28 September 2011 of the Head of the Warsaw Family Support Centre, which was then replaced by the Ordinance no 11/2015 from 24 February 2015 of the Head of the Warsaw Family Support Centre, available (PL) at: https://bit.ly/44CVXiR
 Program ”housing contest” [konkurs mieszkaniowy] is regulated by the Ordinance no 46/2021 from 20 October 2021 of the Head of the Warsaw Family Support Centre, available (PL) at: https://bit.ly/3B5DC0e
 Heritage Real Estate Think Tank, Ile mieszkań brakuje w Polsce [What is the housing deficit in Poland], report in cooperation with UN Global Compact Network Poland, November 2018, available at: https://bit.ly/42C5xQX.
 Ibidem, 147.
 Maryla Koss-Goryszewska ‘Mieszkalnictwo’ in A. Górska, M. Koss-Goryszewska, J. Kucharczyk (eds), W stronę krajowego machanizmu ewaluacji integracji: Diagnoza sytuacji beneficjentów ochrony międzynarodowej w Polsce (Instutut Spraw Publicznych 2019), available (in Polish) at: https://bit.ly/2w3NkBS, 30.
 NGOs alternative report to the government report on implementation of the Convention of the Rights of the Child, submitted to UNICEF, August 2020, available (in Polish) at: https://bit.ly/3s3hZXK.
 K. Sobczak-Szelc, M. Pachocka, K. Pędziwiatr, J. Szałańska, ‘Integration Policies, Practices and Responses. Poland – Country Report’, Multilevel Governance of Mass Migration in Europe and Beyond Project (#770564, Horizon2020), available at: http://bit.ly/3bfjTxL, 11.
 Ibidem, 136.
 Stowarzyszenie Interwencji Prawnej and others, third party joint submission to the 41st Session of the Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review of Poland – 4th cycle, 2022, available at: https://bit.ly/3mdl9ec, p.4.