The Irish Refugee Council has asked the government to pay people with vacant cottages or guest rooms between €300 and €400 a month to accommodate Ukrainian families fleeing the war.
Council CEO Nick Henderson said: “Our current reliance on hotels is more expensive and unsustainable, with estimated hotel rental costs of around €100 per room per night.”
His plea comes after the cabinet warned that the state’s capacity to accommodate Ukrainian refugees is nearing exhaustion.
A bed shortage is expected by the end of this week and up to 10,000 people are believed to be left homeless by the end of the month.
More than 19,000 Ukrainian refugees have already arrived in Ireland and more are expected as the crisis continues.
Ministers were told on Tuesday that with an average of 580 refugees arriving daily, around 5,000 additional beds would be needed by Easter.
This will come in addition to the already identified hotels, guesthouses, boarding houses, government facilities and lodgings of people who have promised free houses and rooms.
The 2016 census showed that there were 62,000 unoccupied cottages in the country and the Irish Refugee Council has stated that even if a fifth or 12,400 of these were made available they would go a long way towards housing the refugees.
Roscommon Galway TD Denis Naughten told the Dáil yesterday that 90,000 houses across the country are vacant and only 1,043 are for rent, according to Daft.ie.
Mr Henderson proposed paying between €300 and €400 a month to people who open their vacant homes for refugee use, and an allowance to cover the additional costs of people who have pledged accommodation in their homes.
“There is no doubt that there would be a cost to doing so and we would be naïve to bury our heads in the sand and ignore that, but our current reliance on hotels is more expensive and unsustainable,” he said.
If a fifth of the vacant holiday homes in the country were made available for refugees and the owners were paid 300 euros a month, it would cost the state 3.72 million euros a month.
“There is also huge potential in public pledges of shelter, but self-sufficiency and independence for refugees should be the first option, and that’s why we’ve proposed the use of cottages and other shelters,” Henderson said.
“We could find that despite the huge pledges from the public, only half or a quarter of the offers can be claimed and we are urging the government to put in place policies in these situations.
“From a host family perspective, this should include and clarify the legal situation – the support that is needed and an exit strategy if things don’t work out.
“From a refugee perspective, these policies must cover their rights and entitlements, as well as an exit strategy in the event of difficulties.”
The Dáil heard this week that people who have taken in Ukrainian refugees are seeing their household bills skyrocket.
Co Louth independent TD Peter Fitzpatrick said he had been approached by families, some of whom had driven to the airport to offer accommodation, who now felt isolated without government support.
Some expected the war to last only a few weeks.
“Ireland can do this if the government takes the lead and the local community gets support,” he said.
“Poland and Moldova have taken in large numbers of refugees from Ukraine, and under a plan by the European Commission there is a proposal to facilitate the flexible use of funds to support refugee housing.
“We recognize that the Irish State’s response has been strong.
“We admire the show of solidarity from the Irish public, but we must now look at the next steps and a long-term plan.”
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/pay-property-owners-400-a-month-to-house-refugees-urges-council-chief-41532278.html The council chairman demands that landowners be paid 400 euros a month for the accommodation of refugees