In France newly arrived refugees being resettled are normally housed in reception centres with asylum seekers. Under a new programme starting in 2010 called Réseau pour l'intégration des réinstallés , refugees have the opportunity to be referred by the government French Office for Immigrant Integration (OFII) for a housing placement and accompanying integration support programme after three months in the centre. Reseau pour l'intégration des réinstallés has a housing capacity of 80 persons, in about 17 apartments, 76% of the housing is in Paris, its suburbs and the surrounding area and the remaining 14% elsewhere in France. This housing is provided for six months initially and can be renewed for a further six months, with apartments then ‘recycled’ for new resettled refugees residing in the centres. The majority of the housing is rented through private owners and not the public housing structure. Within Reseau pour l'intégration des réinstallés, refugees are able to access a special integration programme
including ten workshops covering orientation to life in France and employment advice, plus more intensive language courses. Refugees are also visited once a month by a France Terre d’Asile case worker and attend a weekly appointment in the office of the caseworker, who assists them to reach the goals set out in an agreed individual integration plan.
The capacity of reception centres in which persons with refugee status are accommodated is hugely insufficient, with only 1,020 places available for over 11,000 persons a year. Many of the refugees want to live in Paris, although housing in the Paris area is rarely affordable, employment opportunities are inadequate and services can be difficult to access. Therefore there has been a need to move refugees directly from the transit centre to independent housing and inform refugees more about living in other areas in France.
Some of the pressures of overcrowding in the reception centres have been relieved, and refugees are able to move into independent housing sooner, rather than spending extended periods in the reception centres. The refugee orientation programme has also been helping refugees to see the possibilities of living outside of the capital.
Finding suitable and low-cost housing for refugees continues to be a challenge. It was difficult to get refugees to move out of the highly urban areas like Lyon and Paris that they initially lived in. They were frightened of the move; among other things it was important to ensure that the areas they were moving to had good transportation links to avoid refugees feeling too isolated.