Number ‘trapped’ in direct provision due to rental crisis increases by 60%

Despite having leave to remain in country, 1,640 people unable to find accommodation

Sinn Féin housing spokesman Eoin Ó Broin: ‘It’s clear that over the course of the last year the number of adults and children trapped in direct provision and using it as a form of emergency accommodation has increased dramatically.’ Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Sinn Féin housing spokesman Eoin Ó Broin: ‘It’s clear that over the course of the last year the number of adults and children trapped in direct provision and using it as a form of emergency accommodation has increased dramatically.’ Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

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The number of people “trapped” in direct provision centres despite having leave to remain in the country has surged by almost 60 per cent in a year, according to new figures.

According to data released to Sinn Féin housing spokesman Eoin Ó Broin, some 1,640 people were in such centres at the end of November despite having been granted leave to remain in the country – meaning they can leave the direct provision system, usually to rented accommodation.

This is up from 1,027 at the end of November 2020, according to figures released to Mr Ó Broin. The Dublin Mid-West TD said many of those who had been granted leave to remain were unable to find rental properties due to the crisis in the sector, and therefore were stuck in the direct provision system.

“It’s clear that over the course of the last year the number of adults and children trapped in direct provision and using it as a form of emergency accommodation has increased dramatically,” Mr Ó Broin told The Irish Times. He said that a place-finder service assisting people in finding private rental accommodation should be improved, while it should be ensured that all affected people have access to homeless Housing Assistance Payment (HAP).

The figures were released in a parliamentary question answered by Minister for Equality Roderic O’Gorman.

‘Concerted effort’

Mr Ó Broin said Mr O’Gorman and Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien should make a “concerted effort” to ensure that all those who have secured leave to remain could transition out of direct provision as quickly as possible.

A spokesman for Mr O’Gorman said his department was conscious of the need to support successful applicants for international protection in accessing housing and integrating into communities. The department has a team which works with the Department of Housing and NGOs and local authorities on housing issues for those with permission to remain in the country, he added.

“All residents who are successful with their application to the Minister for Justice for a protection status or a permission to remain are notified by letter . . . of the supports available to them and the contact details of their support workers – whose services are funded by [the department],” the spokesman said, adding that a number of clinics have been held in accommodation centres to provide information on housing options.

A spokeswoman for Mr O’Brien said the Department of Housing is working to help implement the White Paper on ending direct provision.

“The Housing Agency has been tasked with providing expert advice on sourcing, delivery and management of accommodation while local authorities will work to agree a national spatial distribution key for accommodation and will also play an important role in community and service access integration.”