Insecure housing situation drives Roma migration - by Dominic Teodorescu & Irene Molina, International Journal of Housing Policy


Building or improving one’s own home is a strong motive for Roma who migrate from one European country to another. Their everyday life is marked by extremely precarious housing conditions, racism and forced nomadism. These findings have emerged in a new study based on interviews and fieldwork in Sweden and Romania.

The researchers followed Roma street workers who came to Sweden to earn money for the purpose of improving their homes in Romania. Once in Sweden, they have found themselves subject to homelessness, harsh weather conditions, racism and discrimination.

The study was based on data collected between 2016 and 2018 by means of interviews with 15 Roma street-workers in Uppsala and field observations in the migrants’ villages of origin in Romania.

“We found that the most common motive for coming to Sweden, and collecting money from small jobs or begging, was to improve their housing conditions in Romania, in the communities they live in. They wanted to help their families but also complete the building of a house, adding an extra room or other small but important improvements,” says Irene Molina, Professor of Human Geography at the Institute for Housing and Urban Research (IBF) and Director of Research at the Centre for Multidisciplinary Studies on Racism (CEMFOR).

Extreme insecurity

“Maybe they wanted to extend a house of perhaps 20 square metres to 35 or 40 square metres, given that the household size was 5–10 people. So you can imagine how vital these investments are,” says Dominic Teodorescu, PhD (Human Geography).

The researchers gained an understanding of the extremely insecure circumstances in which Roma street workers live, both in Romania and in Sweden. Having migrated to earn money for their homes in Romania, they are unable to spend money on housing while they are in Sweden. They live in cars or caravans, in the forest or under bridges, and are often forced to move on. It is a vicious circle, in Teodorescu’s view.

“In Romania they live in extreme marginalisation and the state takes no responsibility for the situation. One way to handle this is to move far away to find a source of income. In Sweden, on the other hand, Roma EU migrants are rejected or pushed back.”

Here you can read the whole interview