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Ukrainian refugees arrive at the international airport of Bordeaux from Moldova on Thursday. Photograph: Philippe Lopez/AFP via Getty
The Government is considering payments of up to €400 per month to those who take in Ukrainian refugees in order to assist with the cost of hosting them over a period that could run to many months.
Two senior Coalition sources said a payment roughly equivalent to that in the UK was to be considered as part of talks to help boost housing supply for those fleeing the war.
With some 25,000 Ukrainian refugees having arrived in the State, housing options are running short and mass emergency accommodation has started to play a more substantial role in the response.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin on Thursday said he had asked senior Ministers to bring forward options on how to support people hosting refugees.
While sources cautioned that no final proposal was yet on the table, they said that disappointment with the level of initial accommodation offers turning into solid proposals would fuel a rapid examination of the options.
It comes after an initial trawl of more than 500 buildings identified by local authorities for possible use as accommodation suggested that just one-fifth of these could be repurposed and available within three to six months.
Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien and officials reviewed some 529 buildings, finding that roughly 20 per cent, or between 3,000-4,500 bed spaces, could be made available in the medium term.
It is understood another 70 per cent would need more than six months to be repurposed, while others were deemed not suitable.
Mr O’Brien is also due to receive offers of land to be used above and beyond that identified in the Housing for All strategy and is set to grant planning permissions directly for modular housing that would become available in six to nine months.
Land will be assessed by a panel before being sent to the Minister for him to directly grant permission under powers granted by extreme circumstance provisions in the Planning Act.
The Dublin Fingal TD said he is also considering shortening procurement timeframes in an attempt to spur the building of modular homes. He said he was eager that works done to convert properties or build in response to the refugee crisis would happen in tandem with the Housing for All plan, and that these could later be repurposed if suitable for longer-term housing.
“Effectively every option is on the table,” he said.
The Minister is also set to consider inactive planning permissions, a new voids policy and accelerating exits from homelessness to make more supply available. He is due to bring a memo to Cabinet on Tuesday outlining detailed plans.
Separately, The Irish Times understands that a further 70 to 100 refugees will be sent to the emergency accommodation facility at the Green Glens Arena in Millstreet in the coming days due to a lack of available hotel rooms.
Arrangements have been made to use 4,500 student accommodation beds during the summer months when they are not in needed by people in third-level education.
Some 196 refugees were being housed in vacant properties that had been pledged by their owners through the Irish Red Cross as of Thursday morning.
The charity has sent the Government details of some 2,400 properties that are believed to be suitable, with local authorities and other partner organisations then tasked with allocating them to refugees.
The latest figures from that organisation showed a further 342 offers of vacant or shared accommodation had been withdrawn in the previous 24 hours. More than 24,000 pledges were originally made, but almost 13,000 have failed to materialise with 3,807 withdrawn and a further 9,184 people who made offers having proven to be uncontactable after multiple attempts.
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