Ukrainian refugees will be offered “one offer of suitable accommodation only” under the Government's revised refusals policy which has now come into effect.
If a Ukrainian refugee turns down an offer of accommodation, they will be asked to “vacate any temporary stay-over facility or short-term emergency accommodation with immediate effect”.
“You will have chosen to source your own accommodation,” the new Government policy says, adding that the Department of Integration’s assessment of the suitability of an accommodation offer is “final”.
The Cabinet signed off on the reforms of the Irish reception and integration system last month.
According to the new policy, which is also published in Ukrainian and Russian, the refusals policy was revised due to the “severe accommodation shortage” and to “manage the current challenges in accommodating so many people including those who continue to arrive”.
“This will help ensure that short-term accommodation continues to be allocated in an equitable and efficient manner,” the Department of Integration said.
It said that all beneficiaries of temporary protection, or Ukrainians fleeing the war, who require assistance with accommodation will be offered “suitable short-term accommodation by the State”. This may include pledged accommodation, vacant homes or serviced accommodation.
“The type of accommodation, geographic location and duration of stay will depend on what is available at that time,” the department said.
It said it would “do its best” to take account of individual needs such as disability or other medical requirements, but this may not be possible due to the shortage of suitable accommodation at any point in time.
It added: “If you refuse an offer of suitable accommodation, you will be advised that the State has now met its obligation to provide access to immediate short-term accommodation and no further offers will be made. You will have chosen to source your own accommodation.
“If you refuse an offer of accommodation, you will be asked to vacate any temporary stay-over facility or short-term emergency accommodation with immediate effect.”
It is believed as many as 70,000 Ukrainians will have arrived here before the end of the year under the Temporary Protection Directive. The Government is providing almost 50,000 of these with accommodation.
Some 5,450 people displaced by the war in Ukraine are living in the private homes of Irish people who have volunteered a room or a vacant home to use. A mixture of hotels, guesthouses, B&Bs are being used along with scout halls, religious congregations’ accommodation and vacant student accommodation.
The construction of 500 modular homes, including 64 in Mahon in Cork to be completed in January, will also go towards the housing need.
In a document on “frequently asked questions” to accompany its new refusals policy, one of the questions listed is “I have been told I have to move from one location to another. Why and can I refuse?” The answer says that contracts with individual accommodation providers sometimes end, or the accommodation may be needed by others in need such as those seeking international protection and “we have no choice but to move these people to alternative suitable accommodation”.
“We do our best to find alternatives accommodation, however, we offer no guarantee to location or standard of the accommodation offered,” it said. “When we find an alternative and offer it to you, regardless of location, if you do not accept it, it will be considered a refusal. No further offer of accommodation will be made.”