Access to autonomous housing for beneficiaries of International Protection in Ireland

June 10, 2024
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Housing plays a key role in the integration of beneficiaries of international protection (BIPs). However, past research has shown that BIPs often face significant barriers in accessing housing. Many countries provide supports to access autonomous housing as a result of this. These barriers pose a challenge for BIPs, who can find themselves with limited options to exit institutional or homeless accommodation, as well as for reception systems, which require outflow to accommodate new applicants. Understanding the challenges, barriers, and good practices is therefore a crucial element of the governance of accommodation of international protection applicants (IPA) in Ireland, as well as the integration of BIPs. However, there is limited recent research on the policies and supports in place for this group, their outcomes, and the challenges and barriers faced.

This report considers the situation of those who arrived in Ireland, applied for international protection, and were granted this status. Applicants for international protection, beneficiaries of temporary protection (BOTP) fleeing the conflict in Ukraine, resettled refugees, and other third-country nationals residing in Ireland are outside of the scope of this study. The report is based on desk research, interviews, and stakeholder consultation.

The research found that BIPs face significant challenges and barriers in trying to access autonomous housing, and that these have resulted in over 6,000 people with status remaining in International Protection Accommodation Services (IPAS) accommodation as of January 2024. One of its key findings is that some major challenges are actually mainstream issues not specific to this group. Examples include severe shortages in the supply of social housing and affordable rental housing, inadequacies in supports such as the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP), a lack of resources and high staff turnover among frontline workers in public services, and a lack of coordination or communication between different agencies or departments.

Alongside these mainstream issues, and reflecting recent European comparative research (EMN, 2024), this study also found that BIPs experience additional challenges and barriers. In Ireland, these include language barriers and a lack of knowledge or information about the system, psychological issues arising from their background and the international protection system, and discrimination in the housing market. In addition, this study shows that many challenges in the Irish context arose from existing policies concerning this group, such as isolated reception centres, which impact on employment outcomes, mental health, access to services, and social connections. Insufficient resources for transition services, the recent IPAS policy of issuing transfers to different centres, and a lack of monitoring of the housing outcomes of BIPs once they leave IPAS accommodation also emerged as challenges. Other difficulties reported include a lack of knowledge or clarity within local authorities about the rights and entitlements of this group, as well as a lack of planning for families arriving through the process of family reunification.