More than 600 granted asylum have no homes

Successful asylum seekers caught in direct provision due to housing crisis

Minister of State for Equality Aodhán Ó Ríordáin: Government moving to prohibit discrimination against tenants in receipt of rent supplement. Photograph: The Irish Times

Minister of State for Equality Aodhán Ó Ríordáin: Government moving to prohibit discrimination against tenants in receipt of rent supplement. Photograph: The Irish Times

 

More than 600 successful asylum seekers are unable to leave direct provision accommodation across the State due to the current housing crisis.

The Department of Justice, which provided the figures to The Irish Times, says it is allowing affected individuals and families to remain on in direct provision centres on “humanitarian grounds”.

“No immigrant cohort would normally ever be supported by the State in this manner”, the department said, stating that it acknowledged the difficulties people were experiencing.

The Irish Refugee Council has been working with many people in this situation. Several cases involve people who were in direct provision for years and were granted asylum between three and six months ago.

Rent allowance limits

Their main problem is the level of rent allowance available to source rented accommodation in the private sector and reluctance by landlords to accept tenants on rent allowance.

Among those affected is Galway-based Nigerian Bisola Akanni, a sole parent with four children aged from five to 15.

She is still staying in the Eglinton Hostel in Salthill, over six weeks after receiving her residency. She had been in direct provision for seven years.

Valentine Funwie Asafor from Cameroon, who has been in direct provision in Tralee, Co Kerry, for over six years, is in a similar predicament. He was granted leave to remain in the State on January 3rd, but cannot find a home.

Minister of State for Equality Aodhán Ó Ríordáin said last month that the Government was moving to prohibit discrimination against tenants in receipt of rent supplement.

However, Irish Property Owners’ Association spokeswoman Margaret McCormick said the proposed change could make the situation worse.

“Landlords are not discriminating – it is the rent allowance system, which is not managed well with delayed payments to tenants who are then obliged to pay landlords,” she said.

Tenants in financial difficulties could legally build up rent arrears and remain on in properties for over a year, she said. Rent allowance should be paid directly to the owner, she said.

The Department of Justice said “continued use of direct provision accommodation facilities while seeking alternative accommodation is being dealt with on a case-by-case basis”, and it could not give a breakdown by location.

Immigrants whose status was regularised in other EU member states lost all direct supports, it said.