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Saturday 10 June 2023 Dublin: 16°C
Sasko Lazarov Housing Minister Darragh O'Brien has written to local authorities to allow social housing tenants to take refugees if they wish.
# Darragh O'Brien
Housing minister tells local authorities to allow social housing tenants to take in Ukrainian refugees
Darragh O’Brien has written to local authorities about the measure.

THE MINISTER FOR Housing has written to local authorities requesting them to allow social housing tenants who wish to do so to accommodate Ukrainian refugees in their homes. 

Darragh O’Brien has confirmed that he has asked local authorities to take “the necessary steps” to allow social housing tenants to participate in the Irish Red Cross pledge scheme to share their homes with Ukrainians fleeing the war in their home country.  

It emerged last month that social housing tenants were not allowed to host Ukrainian refugees because doing so would break their tenancy agreements.

However, the minister has now sought to reverse this policy as fears mount over the State’s capacity to accommodate refugees arriving from eastern Europe.

At the end of last month, some 24,708 pledges of accommodation were offered through the Irish Red Cross portal.

After an initial focus on the more than 5,000 vacant properties on offer, Ukrainian refugees have begun moving in to share the homes of Irish residents.

There have been concerns in Government that up to half of the pledges received have not worked out or have been withdrawn, with further reports that the Irish Red Cross has had difficulty in contacting people who originally made a pledge. 

Hotel accommodation was initially used to accommodate refugees when they began arriving from Ukraine in March, but there are increasing concerns that hotel rooms will no longer be an option as bookings are taken up by tourists in the summer months.

In a Parliamentary Question, Sinn Féin’s Mark Ward asked the Minister whether families in local authority homes would be allowed to host Ukrainian families and if he could confirm that they would not be in breach of their tenancy agreements if they did so.

The minister said in his response that he had written to local authority bosses, saying that if social housing tenants were willing to pledge their home, they would be allowed to do so without facing an repercussions.

The Government is looking at offering €400 payments to householders who provide accommodation. Department of Social Protection officials are also assessing the workings of the plan, with proposals set to go to Cabinet next week. 

The payment is aimed at helping the payment of bills for people that take in families to their homes. 

Aside from pledges from the public, O’Brien said the Government is securing accommodation for arrivals from Ukraine through hotels, guest houses and B&Bs, as well as State-owned or private properties, which may be suitable for short-term accommodation. 

Religious properties and local authority community facilities are also available, as well as tented accommodation in Gormanstown in Meath, the Millstreet Arena in Cork, and the Citywest complex in Dublin. 

The Minister said that the Government is “working to ensure local capacity, resources and knowledge are brought to bear on the overall humanitarian response”.

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