Thirty-one asylum seekers were unable to be accommodated by the State on Thursday, official figures show, bringing to 55 the total number of people left without housing assistance since they arrived here this week.
The rising number of asylum seekers facing the prospect of sleeping rough after arriving into the country seeking refuge has been described as “totally shocking” by homeless charities.
Seven newly-arrived asylum seekers were left without accommodation on Tuesday. This rose to 17 on Wednesday, and 31 on Thursday, according to the Department of Children and Integration, bringing to 55 the total number of individuals at risk of sleeping rough over the past three days.
The department has said it was prioritising finding scarce accommodation for women and children arriving into the country, leaving some men forced to sleep rough. The serious shortage of accommodation is expected to continue for several days.
A department spokesman said officials had taken the details of asylum seekers it could not accommodate, who would be contacted “as soon as accommodation becomes available”.
Mike Allen, head of advocacy at homeless charity Focus Ireland, said the situation was now “totally shocking”.
“Nobody seems to have done a disaster mitigation plan,” such as providing further temporary tented accommodation or camp beds in sports halls, he said.
“All these are better than saying ‘here is a voucher and clear off’, that is the worst,” he told The Irish Times.
[ Homeless asylum seekers: ‘We are in a very difficult position. We will have to sleep on the streets again’ ]
There was concern that if the numbers of asylum seekers left without accommodation continued to increase day on day they would soon make up a significant portion of rough sleepers in Dublin city, he said.
“Ireland has one of the lowest levels of rough sleeping in Europe, this is going to transform that,” Mr Allen said. “It’s going to add up each day… There’s no sense of outflow,” he said.
Homeless services had a concern the trend could lead to a greater acceptance of rough sleepers and a “lowering of expectation and standards” to address the issue, he said.
“I get no sense of real cross Government response”, he said. While departments were working hard to address the crisis, they were “not working hard together,” he said.
[ Minister for Housing warns of very little capacity within homeless sector to accommodate refugees ]
Homeless services were prepared to step up, such as putting temporary camp beds in staff kitchens or other areas, during periods of serious cold weather, he said. However, that sort of emergency response could not be maintained for more than several days. “We know a cold weather snap lasts a week”, he said.
At present homeless services and hostels were at “full capacity”, he said.
The State plans to keep a reception hub at Citywest in Dublin closed to international protection applicants seeking emergency shelter for at least another few days as the migration crisis enters an “extremely difficult phase”.