New research details the impact of housing-related racism
Racist harassment in housing is much more prevalent and serious than previously documented, new research published today (16.02.2017) by the Immigrant Council of Ireland has found. The report Taking Racism Seriously: Experiences of racism and racially motivated anti-social behaviour in social housing outlines a number of housing-related racist incidents, examines the current gaps in social housing policies and procedures, and outlines potential solutions for this endemic issue.
This research analysed racist incidents in social housing but it is clear from our helpline statistics incidents of the same nature are happening in all types of tenure. For Taking Racism Seriously, data on racist incidents in social housing was collected across Ireland and on foot of the findings, Dublin City Council’s responses to such issues were analysed to identify what the current existing policies and practices are in place, and how they might be improved upon.
Brian Killoran, CEO of the Immigrant Council of Ireland, said, “This research was inspired by calls to our own anti-racism hotline and the increasing number of incidents of racial harassment in people’s homes or the vicinity. Delving more deeply we uncovered the nature of racist harassment in housing is much more violent than in other settings such as in the workplace or in schools and colleges.
“We were left in no doubt of the serious impact racial abuse and harassment has on people, with, shockingly, two suicide attempts reported as a direct result of racially motivated anti-social behaviour. Furthermore three families ended up becoming virtually homeless and there were also many reports of sleep disturbance, anxiety, fear of leaving home or of leaving children to play outside.
“Harassment of people in their homes is particularly damaging and people are in a very vulnerable position. The perpetrators always know where you are and there is no hiding from them. The home is supposed to be people’s safe place; their sanctuary. Victims of racially motivated harassment in their homes can be constantly worried that something more, possibly worse is going to happen to them or their family members. When people’s sense of safety and security is robbed then stress levels rise dramatically and mental health can be seriously affected, as we saw in the cases where young victims of racially motivated harassment attempted suicide or had suicidal ideation.
“This report highlighted clear gaps in policy, training and procedure for those working in local housing authorities and the Gardaí. We therefore commend Dublin City Council for taking a proactive approach to investigating the issues and seeking solutions.”
Brendan Kenny, Deputy Chief Executive, Dublin City Council, said “This research has given us the opportunity to examine more carefully people’s experiences, revealing the extent of the problems of housing-related racism and the impact this has on people’s lives.
“Given the increasing diversity of Irish society, there is a risk this issue could mushroom and overwhelm many services. We therefore have a responsibility to put policies and practices in place which will prevent the problem escalating. We look forward to working alongside key partners, including the Gardaí, other local housing authorities and the relevant State bodies, to ensure better protections are put in place for those affected.”
- Verbal harassment (60%) was the most prevalent category of racially motivated harassment and abuse reported,
- Property damage and racist graffiti accounted for 30%
- Physical violence (25%)
- The majority of victims were Black African (46%) (in line with the general statistics on racist incidents in Ireland)
- Central and Eastern European (24%)
- Asian persons (12%)
- Children under 18 comprised 42% of victims
- But equally as worrying – if not more so – 44% of perpetrators were children and young people
*NB Data based on information given to Immigrant Council of Ireland between January 2013 and December 2014.
- The government should introduce hate crime legislation that would offer adequate legislative protection from verbal and physical abuse based on ethnic, religious and cultural background
- Local authority staff should be trained in terms of understanding racism and racially motivated antisocial behaviour, the impact on victims and responding appropriately and effectively
- Greater collaboration between local authorities and guards to investigate and take it seriously
Selected photos from the report available on request
Later this month the Immigrant Council will be holding training sessions with local authorities highlighting the key findings of this report and identifying solutions, as well as providing training to communities on how to stand up against racist harassment in housing.