Time to step up? Irish sound off on request to host refugees amid severe housing crisis

Time to step up? Irish sound off on request to host refugees amid severe housing crisis
The Irish Red Cross have asked citizens to “put empty space to better use” and house refugees from the Middle East who the government offered asylum to in the middle of a national housing crisis. But are the Irish prepared?

The national campaign is asking Irish homeowners to “pledge a room or a vacant property for a Syrian refugee today” in an effort to house some of the more than 1,800 refugees who have arrived from predominantly Syria, but also Iraq and Libya.

Despite the country’s current housing crisis which has been described as “serious national challenge and threat” to the economy, the charity is asking people with vacant properties or bedrooms to consider offering it to a refugee family for a minimum year-long contract.

RT spoke to people in Dublin who seemed open to the idea, however most were unable to offer such accommodation in a city that is already succumbing to soaring rent prices and struggling to house a growing homeless population.

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The Red Cross say they’re asking for people to house refugees for “between 12 to 18 months”, until they can eventually be moved to social housing. More than 85,000 people were on the waiting list for government-funded housing in 2017, 24 percent of which had been on the list for more than seven years, according to a government report.

The charity says the campaign gives refugees a unique opportunity to “rebuild their lives and settle in Irish communities”. Property owners can offer their accommodation on a charity basis or as part of a Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) scheme.

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The campaign follows a similar attempt in 2015 which also asked citizens to “pledge a bed” to refugees. According to local media the call to action drew more than 830 offers, but resulted in only 58 successful pledges. Possibly because properties must be “reasonably close” to public transport, local amenities, English language courses and employment opportunities.

In 2015, the Irish government promised to take in 4,000 refugees and asylum seekers from Greece, Lebanon and Italy. So far, they’ve reportedly welcomed 1,814 and plan to resettle and additional 600 refugees in 2018 and 2019.

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