The Irish government is considering imposing a three-month time limit on Ukrainian refugees staying in public housing due to increasing shortages, according to the Irish Examiner. Currently, tens of thousands of Ukrainians are allowed to stay in hotels and hostels indefinitely at the expense of the Irish taxpayers, costing around €1.5 billion annually. However, under the proposed change, asylum-seekers would be responsible for their own housing costs after the initial three-month period.
The move is being portrayed by the government as a way to encourage Ukrainian refugees to integrate into society quickly. However, the Irish Examiner suggests that it may also serve as a deterrent for more Ukrainians seeking accommodation in Ireland, as officials struggle to find adequate housing on a weekly basis.
If implemented, asylum-seekers would have to turn to the private rental market for housing or utilize the government’s “offer-a-home” scheme, in which landlords are paid €800 per month to provide accommodation. This change would align Ireland’s policies with other EU countries that currently offer state-funded accommodation for a limited period, typically between 90 and 180 days.
Nevertheless, some critics have already expressed concerns about the proposal. An unnamed official raised the issue of potentially increasing homelessness figures in Ireland, while Kate Durrant, spokesperson for the Community Response Forum representing Ukrainians living in the country, deemed the plan “not at all feasible” and “completely utopian.”
A spokesperson for Ireland’s department of integration clarified that no final decision has been made and that the matter is still under review. However, they emphasized the need to find a more sustainable approach that aligns with other EU member states.
Since the conflict with Russia began in February 2022, the Irish government has taken in nearly 100,000 Ukrainian refugees, constituting around 1.6% of all Ukrainian refugees in Europe. Of these, approximately 72,000 have been placed in state-funded accommodations. The total cost of housing these displaced people is projected to reach €2.5 billion by next year, surpassing the current expenditure by almost €1 billion.
In conclusion, the Irish government’s consideration of imposing a three-month time limit on Ukrainian refugees staying in public housing aims to address growing shortages and align Ireland’s policies with other EU countries. While the proposal is intended to encourage rapid integration, critics raise concerns about potential homelessness and feasibility. The decision is still under review, and the government seeks a more sustainable approach that reflects the practices of other EU member states.