Tuesday, 24 September 2019

Questions (223)

Catherine Murphy


223. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he has consulted with the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government regarding accommodation needs of persons that cannot be facilitated in direct provision centres due to lack of accommodation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38587/19]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

As the Deputy will appreciate, my Department is experiencing significant upward pressure on its accommodation portfolio due to an increase in the number of people claiming international protection and an associated demand for accommodation and related services. In the first half of this year alone, we have seen a 36% increase in the number of applications received.

Our 38 existing accommodation centres are currently at full capacity. To ensure that we can continue to provide accommodation for all applicants who require it, since September 2018, my Department has arranged for the provision of emergency accommodation in hotels and guest houses. Every effort is being made to re-accommodate residents in these emergency locations to a dedicated accommodation centre as quickly as possible. My Department is actively working on securing additional capacity, both in existing centres and through sourcing new centres via a series of regional procurement competitions and an expression of interest process that was advertised in the national media.

Currently, we are accommodating 6,056 people across our 38 accommodation centres and a further 1,363 people in 34 emergency accommodation locations.

Officials of my Department regularly engage with other Government Departments and Public Sector organisations to ensure that everyone in the protection process can access the necessary public services and supports. Regular meetings take place with representatives from the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, the Department Education and Skills, and with representatives from the Health Services Executive and the Education and Welfare Service.

My Department is represented on the Homeless Interagency Group and the Dublin Joint Homelessness Consultative Forum. My officials also engage on a regular basis with representatives of the Dublin Regional Homeless Executive.

Residents who have been granted an international protection status or a permission to remain have the same access to housing supports and services as Irish and European Economic Area (EEA) nationals. There are currently approximately 900 residents with status or permission to remain. My Department is supporting these residents to move out of our accommodation centres and into secure permanent accommodation. We are providing funding support to DePaul Ireland and the Peter McVerry Trust to work with these residents to secure homes. A number of NGOs have also been awarded monies under the EU Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF). These include the PATHS project and South Dublin County Partnership. Additionally, my Department is liaising with officials in the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, and with the City and County Managers Association (CCMA) collectively to support residents with status or permission to remain to access housing options.