Friday, November 10, 2023

Ireland considering making Ukrainian refugees homeless


The Irish government is considering whether to limit the time Ukrainian refugees can remain in public housing, proposing a three-month cut-off amid a chronic national housing crisis, according to the Irish Examiner. Asylum-seekers would be required to cover their own costs after that period.

Tens of thousands of Ukrainians have been permitted to remain indefinitely in hotels and hostels in the country at taxpayers' expense, at a cost of some €1.5 billion per year. The reported policy change would force refugees to provide for themselves after three months in state-funded accommodation, the Examiner reported.

Should the measure be implemented, asylum-seekers would be required to look to the crisis-hit private rental market for housing, or go through the “offer-a-home” scheme, under which the government pays landlords €800 per month in order to use one of their properties specifically for Ukrainians who have fled their country.

According to the Examiner, the government will sell the upcoming change as a way to encourage Ukrainians to “integrate into society quickly,” though the outlet suggested it may be a tactic to “discourage more Ukrainians from seeking accommodation in Ireland as officials continue to struggle on a weekly basis to find adequate accommodation.”

The new restrictions would “bring Ireland’s offering in line with other EU countries,” a government source told the newspaper. A number of states in the bloc currently offer between 90 and 180 days of state-funded accommodation, requiring payment after that point.

However, some critics have already pushed back against the proposal, with another unnamed official voicing concern that it could “add to the homelessness figures” in Ireland, according to the Examiner. Kate Durrant of the Community Response Forum, a group representing Ukrainians living in the country, also stated the plan is “not at all feasible,” adding “it’s completely utopian as far as I can see.”

A spokesperson for Ireland’s department of integration later told Reuters that no final decision had been made, and that the move remains under review, but stressed the need to find a sustainable approach that was more in line with those of other EU members.

The Irish government says it has taken in nearly 100,000 Ukrainians since the conflict with Russia erupted in February 2022, constituting about 1.6% of all Ukrainian refugees in the EU, and has placed some 72,000 in state-funded accommodations. The total cost for housing the displaced people is expected to soar to €2.5 billion by next year, topping the current figure by nearly €1 billion.'


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