Payments to about 1,600 people who have offered rooms and vacant properties to those fleeing the Ukraine war have commenced, almost six months after Russia’s invasion.
Liam O’Dwyer, secretary general of the Irish Red Cross, which is managing the pledges of accommodation for the Government, said he was “delighted” that 1,600 people had started to receive the €400 monthly payment for helping refugees of the war.
Mr O’Dwyer said he expected the figure would “shoot up” over the next month as more Ukrainians move out of third-level accommodation and into rooms and properties pledged by families and individuals. Some 4,500 Ukrainian refugees have been staying in student complexes, the vast majority of which will need to be vacated before colleges return next month.
Minister for Integration Roderic O’Gorman confirmed in a parliamentary question that the process of paying households to take in the refugees was almost complete. “I am pleased to confirm that final steps are under way to roll out the €400 recognition payment for people who provide accommodation to those fleeing the conflict in Ukraine,” he said.
The Department of Social Protection confirmed that it had started making the payments to those who had offered accommodation. The scheme would initially cost €640,000 a month given the numbers involved, a source said. Applications are continuing to be processed and further payment runs will be made shortly.
While the Government had originally opposed such a scheme, it eventually agreed that a monthly flat rate payment per property – shared or vacant and pledged through Irish Red Cross or privately – would be made by the State.
Participants have to agree to host Ukrainian families for a minimum of six months, with payments for the hosting arrangements continuing beyond this timeframe.
Separately, it has been confirmed that Thurles, Co Tipperary, is to host a modular housing scheme for Ukrainian refugees. The Government had previously confirmed that modular homes would be built in Cavan, Fingal, Kildare and Cork city. The Government has said these homes will be highly energy efficient, durable units with a 60-year lifespan.
To date, more than 42,000 people have arrived in Ireland from Ukraine, with more than 31,000 of those seeking accommodation from the State.
More than 400 contracts to meet the temporary accommodation needs have been entered into by the State. This represents more than 25,000 beds in hotels, guesthouses and B&Bs, hostels, self-catering accommodation and certain other repurposed settings.
Meanwhile, the Department of Children has issued a circular to Ukrainian refugees who are currently housed in student accommodation informing them that they will shortly be required to move out of the accommodation.
They have been told that Mid West Simon will be managing the process and “they will contact you in the days coming up to the move”.
“They will visit your current accommodation and will help prepare you for the move. You will be informed of your new location as soon as possible. Additional information will be made available in your transfer letter.”
Refugees were told there was a “severe shortage of available accommodation” and that “in light of this very challenging situation, it is likely that you will move to another short-term accommodation option. This may not be in the same location as your current accommodation and may not be of a similar standard.”
They have also been advised to consider taking up an offer of accommodation pledged by a member of the public.
“In many cases implementing partners [IOM, Peter McVerry Trust, IRC] will visit student residences and be available to help people find pledged accommodation. We strongly urge you to consider this option as the locations and quality of accommodation is known.”