As the Deputy will be aware, the State has a legal obligation to offer accommodation, food and a range of other services (including utilities and healthcare etc.) to any person who claims a right to international protection in Ireland while their legal claim is being examined. These services are demand-led and generally it is difficult to predict demand far in advance.
As of 1 December 2019, there were 6,013 persons being provided with accommodation by my Department in the 40 accommodation centres located nationwide, which are now at full operating capacity. A further 1,559 persons are residing in 37 hotels and guest houses, procured as emergency capacity. The amount spent on hotel and guest house beds in emergency locations up to end of November 2019 was €27.14m. Every effort is being made to re-accommodate applicants in emergency locations to a dedicated accommodation centre as quickly as possible.
To meet the associated increase in demand for accommodation, my Department has initiated two processes to source additional accommodation.
Firstly, my Department sought expressions of interest from parties who would be interested in providing accommodation and related services to people in the international protection process. Premises assessed as suitable under this process may be offered a short-term contract (usually one year).
Secondly, my Department has run procurement competitions through the Government's procurement portal, Etenders, on a regional basis throughout the country to procure accommodation. These contracts will be longer term with a minimum contract duration of 2 years on offer and a maximum contract duration of 4 years.
My Department has, in conjunction with a number of charities and NGOs who were awarded funding for projects, assisted a total of 675 people to transit from state provided accommodation to permanent homes in the community. This figure relates to the period from the beginning of the year to the end of October.
My Department also secured an additional €1m in Budget 2020 for immigration Service Delivery which includes provision for additional staffing to fast-track decisions on applications for international protection, thus reducing pressure on the State provided accommodation.