Tuesday, 21 June 2022
Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth
622. To ask the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth if he will elaborate on his plans for student accommodation to be used to house Ukrainian refugees during the summer months; the legal and contractual basis on which these arrangements will be made with both third-level institutions and the owners of privately owned student accommodation; the locations in which refugees who are housed in such accommodation will be re-housed once third-level education resumes in September; if he will give a commitment that no student accommodation will still be used to house refugees once the college term resumes in view of the shortage of student accommodation in recent years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31905/22]
Since the outbreak of the war in Ukraine on 24 February, and the invoking of the temporary protection Directive by the European Union shortly afterwards, my Department has worked intensively as part of the cross-governmental response to the Ukraine crisis.
The operational challenges brought about by responding to the conflict are significant. Our country has never experienced an influx of displaced persons like the one that we have seen over the past months. My Department’s role is focused on the immediate, short-term accommodation needs of those who have fled here.
To date, more than 35,000 people have arrived in Ireland and just in excess of 25,000 of those have been referred to us seeking accommodation from the State.
Overseeing provision of accommodation on this scale during this timeframe for all those who require it remains immensely challenging. Due to the urgent need to source accommodation, a broad range of accommodation types have been contracted, including emergency accommodation. While this is not ideal, the priority is to place people fleeing the conflict in safe and secure accommodation.
Numbers seeking international protection have also increased adding to accommodation capacity issues.
There are 19 providers of student accommodation covering 30 sites, commencing mid-May, whose provision will, in the main, end at various points in August, representing a capacity of c. 4,500 from both third-level institutions and with the owners of privately-owned student accommodation.
Legal contracts are in place with both third-level institutions and with the owners of privately-owned student accommodation.
A small number of the privately-owned student accommodation contracts extend past August.
My Department sits on the cross-sectoral and cross-departmental Humanitarian Crisis Housing Taskforce which is chaired by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, and which is leading cross government consideration and development of medium and long-term accommodation solutions. Advancing these properties will involve further engagement with all relevant stakeholders.
Due to the scarcity of accommodation available, all options remain under consideration.