460 with refugee status still in direct provision

460 asylum seekers who have secured their refugee status are still living in direct provision centres, in many cases because they cannot secure alternative housing.

At the end of February, 460 people with refugee status were still living in direct provision centres, data provided to the Irish Examiner, under Freedom of Information, shows.

In each of 17 centres, there were at least 10 people with status still living there, while Mosney, in Co Meath, had 96 residents with status.

Reuben Hambakachere, a transitional support worker for the Meath-based Cultúr group and a former resident of Mosney, said none of those 96 people had much chance of moving into private rented accommodation.

I was on the ground and I spoke with 15 families last week, he said. They said: ‘If I don’t move during the summer, I will have to wait until next year.’

The difficulties of changing schools was the main reason, but Mr Hambakachere said a sample of families in Mosney had shown why people had not moved on once their application to remain in Ireland had been successful.

The main obstacle was money, not just for deposit and start-up costs, but even to attend viewings.

Mr Hambakachere also said many people who had been living in a direct provision centre for a number of years had “genuine fears” about moving out. They had become institutionalised.

He added that while people leaving direct provision were at risk of becoming homeless, they often could not access the same supports that were available to other people in the same situation.

The centre with the second-highest number of residents with status is the Towers, Clondalkin. It has 84.

A three-year project, funded by the European Commission and operated by the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) and the Peter McVerry Trust, has just completed the first year of its work. It transferred 46 people out of the centre, with 100 to follow over the next two years.

David Moriarty, assistant director of the JRS, said that, “by and large, the reason that people with status remain is because there are barriers to leaving”.

He said the housing crisis had exacerbated the problems. Figures published last week by Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy showed that 9,681 people were living in emergency accommodation at the end of March, although that figure is in dispute, because of claims that it might include hundreds of people who were not technically homeless.

The Paths project, run by the JRS and the Peter McVerry Trust, enables clients to secure an enhanced housing assistance payment, but does not provide any money for rent or deposit.

Instead, support workers engage with landlords, and vouch for former direct provision residents with references and assurances to the property owner. Only on securing a tenancy will it provide a few hundred euro in start-up money.

Mr Moriarty said while 46 people had moved in the first year of Paths, 103 people had been assessed, with tenancies explored and secured through websites like daft.ie.

Mr Moriarty also said that any delays in the processing of asylum applications were also likely to have a knock-on effect at a later stage, if and when someone was hoping to move to private, rented accommodation.

The cost of the project, over three years, is €240,000, while a similar project in Laois costs €400,000.


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