The government is expected to double the monthly payment for those hosting Ukrainian refugees to €800 and expand a program to build modular homes as it strives to provide accommodation for those arriving in Ireland.
Government sources have indicated that a figure of €800 is to be agreed for hosts, and that there will be a call for vacancies led by local authorities and the Housing Department.
However, the Absorption Ministry warned on Monday that there was “no expectation” that the number of arrivals from Ukraine and elsewhere will decrease in the autumn, saying that “the prospects for the availability of adequate housing are extremely difficult”.
The modular home program is increased by 200 units from its initial level of 500 homes. However, the Office of Public Works said the houses will only be brought into use gradually in January and February next year.
Another 800 people are expected to be housed through the expansion of the schemes, bringing the total to 2,800. A main contractor, Sisk, has been appointed and has subcontracted five companies to build the houses.
An OPW spokeswoman said the government “has approved the construction of 500 modular homes that can accommodate up to 2,000 people in four-person family units. The program will expand to deliver another 200 homes, bringing the total at 700″.
Meanwhile, senior ministers have been considering proposals to reduce simplified access to medical cards for people fleeing war in Ukraine.
The Cabinet Sub-Committee on Shelter and Support for the Ukraine Crisis met to discuss options for dealing with a growing crisis by providing people fleeing war, as well as international protection seekers with other jurisdictions.
It is understood that among the proposals considered was one that would introduce assessments for medical cards issued to beneficiaries of temporary protection (BOTP), the classification given to those seeking refuge here after the war in Ukraine.
Sources said they would be assessed for eligibility based on an allowable financial threshold, in plans to be discussed.
Medical cards are issued to people ordinarily resident in the state after a means test that includes income, as well as savings, property, and investments. Currently, there is a simplified application process for medical cards for those coming from Ukraine as well as expedited options for payments and social benefits.
Revenue Commissioners records show there are 9,520 people seeking refuge from the war in gainful employment, with some 4,080 employers.
The sub-committee reviewed a series of proposals that were submitted by all departments. These include increased payments for those taking in Ukrainians and payments for those offering vacant housing for use.
A charge for those staying in hotels, in exchange for services they receive such as laundry, food, transportation and other consumables, is also contemplated on the basis that these services are not provided for those who live in rented accommodation.
The proposals included charging a payment for those who are in direct provision but are allowed to stay in the country and work after being granted international protection status. Other measures, such as a payment to induce or assist people to leave direct provision, were to be discussed – although a payment and notice of departure were ruled out given the difficulties in accessing rental accommodation private, a source said.
The committee was also due to discuss increased checks on applicants for international protection (IPs) at airports, renewed interest in pre-fabricated and modular housing, a planned new facility at the airport due to open today. hui and the hiring and conversion of larger centers for the processing and accommodation of people entering the reception system.
Renewed focus should also be placed on advancing elements of the government’s plan to end direct provision, including the purchase of reception and integration centers for international protection claims, which would provide outlet or an alternative to direct supply.
Before the meeting, the government was very concerned about the political and humanitarian consequences of the current situation. With more than 54,000 Ukrainians in Ireland, including more than 30,000 in hotels, the situation is extremely tense. The number of arrivals and applications for international protection has also increased, with more than 15,500 spread across the system.
The pressures lead to finger-pointing within the Coalition, with Green Party sources privately complaining that Absorption Minister Roderic O’Gorman has been left to handle the whole situation, with little modular accommodation , converted buildings or other medium-term options for people currently in emergency accommodation or with services who come forward. “Everyone took their foot off the pedal,” a source said Monday morning.
Meanwhile, Public Expenditure and Reform Minister Michael McGrath has promised Ireland will not turn back Ukrainian refugees seeking protection here despite housing pressures.
Mr McGrath acknowledged that the recent increase in the number of Ukrainians arriving in Ireland, currently estimated at 1,500 or more a week, was putting pressure on the state and that it was not acceptable for Ukrainians to be turned away from homeless shelters as happened over the weekend.
But he said Ireland would not tell the European Union or the Ukrainian government that it could no longer accept Ukrainian refugees despite the enormous challenges it posed to the government to secure housing for them all.
“We have international obligations which we have signed at EU level and we will fulfill our obligations and there will be no declaration that Ireland is closed to Ukrainians. That will not happen,” Mr. McGrath ahead of today’s Cabinet sub-committee meeting on the matter.
“But we also have to be honest with people who are considering coming to Ireland, that there is no guarantee of immediate accommodation and the system is under pressure,” he added when taking part. at the Public Service Innovation Conference in Cork. Hall.
“But, that said, I think what we have achieved is very important, providing accommodation for over 40,000 people, and we will explore all possible avenues to see what more we can do to ensure that we provide basic housing and support for people who come here. »
Mr McGrath said 55,000 people had fled Ukraine and come to Ireland since February and that 42,000 of them were staying in state-paid accommodation and around 5,000 others were living in accommodation promised by people who had contacted the Irish Red Cross to offer accommodation.
He said the government had issued around 43,000 medical cards to Ukrainians while some 12,000 Ukrainian children attended Irish schools, but the government estimated that the cost to the public purse of supporting all Ukrainian refugees for the whole of 2022 would be around 1 billion euros.
“This is the biggest mass movement of people since World War II and it’s not just Ireland that’s under pressure – many of our European neighbors are under pressure too – we’re doing the best we can,” did he declare.