Migrants presenting as homeless ‘directly from the airport’, housing officials claim

Officials had ‘concern’ about increase in migrants becoming homeless, internal documents show

Department of Housing officials privately raised concerns about the number of migrants arriving in the State and presenting as homeless after coming “directly from the airport”, records show.

An internal briefing on rising monthly homeless figures stated officials had a “concern” about the increasing numbers of migrants from outside of Europe in emergency accommodation.

The Dublin Region Homeless Executive had “noted an increase in the numbers of families presenting directly from the airport, which had been in decline in recent months,” the document stated.

Department officials said migrants who became homeless shortly after arriving in the State would not be entitled to social housing supports, such as the housing assistance payment (Hap) to help them rent in the private market. The briefing said this meant the possible routes out of homelessness for this group would be “severely” limited.


In addition to migrants presenting to homeless services who were “newly arrived from abroad”, the records show there is also growing focus within the department on the issue of asylum seekers leaving direct provision and becoming homeless.

Wayne Stanley, executive director of the Simon Communities of Ireland, said he was not aware of any “massive influx” of people declaring themselves homeless after arriving in the country.

Eoin Ó Broin TD, Sinn Féin housing spokesman, said it appeared the Government was trying to blame rising homelessness on “population increases and migratory patterns”, rather than failed housing policy. “People who do not have a place to sleep need to be provided with shelter ... We cannot have a situation where there are more rough sleepers on the streets,” he said.

Latest figures show there were more than 13,300 people living in emergency accommodation at the end of last year, including nearly 4,000 homeless children.

The number of adult migrants originally from outside of Europe in homeless accommodation had risen by 45 per cent in the last year, the briefing stated. “The increase in this cohort is a concern,” department officials wrote.

The department said a recent review found 43 per cent of 5,600 households in emergency accommodation in Dublin on one night in November did not have an active application for social housing, which would entitle them to Hap supports to rent in the private market. The internal briefing document said this meant the cohort did not have a path out of emergency accommodation, “prolonging” their time spent homeless.

The December 2023 briefing, released to The Irish Times under the Freedom of Information Act, shows department officials were increasingly concerned about asylum seekers leaving direct provision and then becoming homeless.

Some 6,000 of the more than 26,000 people in the asylum system have been granted status to remain in the State, but have yet to leave direct provision, in part due to difficulties sourcing housing.

The briefing said the number of asylum seekers with status to remain who were presenting to homeless services had more than doubled in the last year. Officials said a Department of Integration policy change to move asylum seekers with status out of direct provision “appears to be one of the factors in the increase in the numbers from this cohort presenting as homeless”.

This group is separate to the more than 900 asylum seekers who recently arrived in the country but the State has been unable to offer shelter, due to accommodation shortages since late last year.

The briefing also warned about “continued constraint” facing the Hap scheme, where the State pays a portion of tenants’ rent in the private market. The department said the number of new Hap tenancies preventing households becoming homeless, or allowing them to leave emergency accommodation, was down 12 per cent on the previous year.

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Jack Power

Jack Power

Jack Power is acting Europe Correspondent of The Irish Times