Q&A: Hosting Ukrainian refugees – how will it work?

People need to be housed close to services and public transport, Red Cross says

More than 20,000 offers to house refugees in spare rooms or empty homes have been received by charities seeking to accommodate tens of thousands of Ukrainians fleeing war, who are expected to arrive in Ireland.

The Irish Red Cross, which is leading the efforts with the Department of Justice, has received more than 15,000 pledges of accommodation, 70 per cent of which are rooms in a shared home.

So for those offering to take Ukrainian refugees into a spare room or second home, how will it all work?

What housing are they looking for?
A vacant home must be near to services, with refugees being able to access a bank, post office, shops, schools and creches, as well as English language courses and employment opportunities. The house would need to be close to public transport, and be a short commute to a nearby village, town or city.


Where a spare room is being offered there would need to be enough space in the home for everyone to have a sense of privacy.

How long would they be staying?
The Irish Red Cross has said rooms and homes would be needed for a minimum of six months to a year.

How is a property assessed?
Staff from the Irish Red Cross will visit the property for a short assessment, to look at whether the home or room would be suitable, and to check if any minor works might be needed.

If the property is deemed suitable it will be added to a list of available housing, to be matched to an individual or family from Ukraine.

Would a holiday home be suitable?
Refugees housed in vacant properties, such as a holiday home, must be able to access essential services and be near public transport links.

While an isolated rural bolthole may not meet those criteria, offers of accommodation will be assessed by a team, who will make a call on whether a property is suitable or not.

The Irish Red Cross said it had some success placing people in holiday homes previously in smaller scale refugee accommodation schemes.

Will homeowners receive financial support?
The accommodation can be provided on a charitable basis, or the homeowner can request to receive the housing assistance payment (Hap), according to the Irish Red Cross. Hap is a payment from local authorities to landlords letting to tenants who receive social housing support, to cover a portion or all of the rent.

Refugees will be entitled to social welfare so may be able to contribute towards electricity and gas bills, an Irish Red Cross spokesman said.

When will I hear back about my offer?
Do not expect to hear back immediately after offering a home or room, it may take several weeks due to the huge volume of offers.

But the process is getting under way, with Ukrainian refugees placed in three properties offered by homeowners deemed suitable over the weekend.

What happens after my home is picked?
After a refugee or family is matched to a potential home or room, the homeowner will be contacted and given some details about the person or family.

Then an introductory meeting will be set up with the Ukrainian guests, a Red Cross caseworker and an interpreter if required.

If you are medically vulnerable or particularly conscious of coronavirus, you can ask if the individual or family has received Covid-19 vaccines, but given it is a private matter they are not obliged to disclose that information.

If both the homeowner and the guests are happy, a move-in date will be set, with a plan put in place to get the spare room or home ready.

After the move a Red Cross caseworker will stay in touch to help the individual or family get set up in the new area and to check if there are any issues with the arrangement.

To pledge a room or house to accommodate Ukrainian refugees visit: redcross.ie