The Reception and Integration Agency of my Department has been encountering significant upward pressure on its accommodation portfolio. Coupled with an increase in the number of people applying for protection in recent years is the large number of people with an international protection status or a permission to remain who continue to live in RIA accommodation. RIA has approximately the same number of persons with status living in its centres as it has applicants housed in emergency accommodation. People with status or permission to remain have the same access to mainstream housing supports and services as nationals. RIA is working intensively with the Peter McVerry Trust, Depaul and the PATHS project to assist these people to transition to mainstream housing services.
As of 9th June 2019 there were 777 residents accommodated in 27 emergency accommodation locations.
RIA endeavours to accommodate all international protection applicants who require accommodation initially at Balseskin Reception Centre. They will then be dispersed to a RIA accommodation centre or an emergency accommodation location.
The duration of stay in the emergency accommodation is intended to be for as short a time as possible prior to being transferred to a contracted RIA accommodation centre when places become available. Family composition, ages of children and medical needs are factors which are taken into account in determining the sequence of persons transferred to centres from emergency accommodation.
Persons accommodated in emergency accommodation are provided with full board accommodation. SafetyNet, on behalf of the HSE, offers medical screening to those applicants who do not receive screening at Balseskin Reception Centre. Additionally, the RIA is liaising with the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection to assist in the process of linking residents with local Community Welfare Services. Staff from RIA are meeting with the residents in these locations to discuss any issues that may arise. In addition, RIA is seeking to contract a Visiting Support and Cultural Liaison Service from the NGO community by the end of this month to assist those residents during their time in the emergency accommodation.
Premises proposed for use as emergency accommodation facilities are inspected by RIA staff prior to opening, and their suitability is assessed, taking all necessary regulatory and legislative requirements into account.