Justice Minister Helen McEntee has indicated that she would personally like owners of private households, landlords and holiday home owners to receive a financial reward for providing housing to Ukrainian refugees fleeing the war.
Minister McEntee, visiting a ‘one-stop-shop’ support center for Ukrainian refugees in the city of Limerick, said the government was considering ‘providing some form of financial assistance, whether to people in their own homes or to persons who have renounced a set of property”.
“It’s something I think we’ll probably consider. It’s probably a more efficient way than paying for a hotel or B&B, and for me personally it’s a lot nicer to think of than a family. would have the support of another family in a house or that she would also have her own house instead of staying in a hotel or B&B.
“These people are fleeing war and an absolutely dreadful situation, so to have the comfort of someone else’s home, and that support as well, would be great.
“We have to explore all options and that is exactly what we are doing. The immediate need was to ensure that when people arrived they had accommodation, and so the vast majority of people are now in hotels and bed and breakfasts.
“We have over 13,300 people so far who have been accommodated and then you have other people who have come privately, due to family ties or otherwise, of course that is not sustainable in the long term” , she said.
Micheál Martin, during his state visit to Helsinki on Friday, said the government would consider offering financial support to households in exchange for hosting Ukrainian refugees.
Mr Martin told the Sunday Independent: ‘Nothing has been ruled out in this regard.
The UK government is offering £350 (€420) per month to UK households to host refugees. The Cabinet was told last week that up to 60% of accommodation offers made to the Red Cross may not be suitable.
Across the coalition, there are growing fears that space in state-funded or state-provided housing could run out in days, with the number of daily arrivals of refugees fleeing the war exceeding 600 twice the last week.
Last week, the Irish Refugee Council (IRC) called on the government to grant holiday home owners €300-400 a month to enable the use of their properties by Ukrainian refugees.
Speaking today, Justice Minister Helen McEntee said the Red Cross was trying to manage more than 25,000 offers of accommodation for Ukrainian war refugees but it would take time to review each offer in order to verify “what is suitable accommodation”.
Other challenges have arisen, including that “people maybe realize it’s not short-term, it’s potentially long-term, so obviously that can impact people’s decisions to do it. .. there are obviously costs if someone is staying in your house and you are going to use your house, whether it’s a vacation home or whatever”.
Ms McEntee said that while “Airbnbs, bed and breakfasts and hotels have been our primary focus”, the government was “looking at faster builds, modular builds” to provide emergency accommodation for Ukrainian refugees.
The minister said the government had started a process of “contact with religious institutions” for the use of their properties to house Ukrainian refugees.
“We have a lot of old buildings that would have been used to house our priests and nuns in the past, so how do we get the most out of the accommodation there, but also how can we use the land.
“In saying that, obviously we have to make sure that we can continue with our housing for all policy, which is our policy to make sure that we have over 35,000 homes built every year.”
Minister McEntee acknowledged “there are certainly lessons to be learned” from the government as well as from “my own department”, the speed with which it has responded to the needs of Ukrainian refugees, the manner in which it responds to those seeking asylum from other conflict zones.
“In years past, people were years of waiting straight for answers – it’s a lot faster now, and we want to make it even shorter,” she said.
More than 100 Ukrainian war refugees who had attended the Dominck Street center at 2 p.m. were given PPS numbers as part of the emergency response to help them financially, with housing and work.