A fresh trawl of available accommodation for asylum seekers and refugees has been conducted by senior Government officials and extra space has been identified in Kildare, Athlone and Mullingar.
Government departments are reassessing what properties might be available under local authorities and the Office of Public Works in a bid to find shelter for those arriving from Ukraine and elsewhere.
A senior officials group met on Wednesday to discuss the severe shortage in available accommodation across the State as the Citywest emergency shelter area remained closed to international protection applicants, resulting in at least 24 men facing homelessness.
There is growing concern in Government that hundreds of asylum seekers could face homelessness in the coming weeks and months.
[ Minister for Housing warns of very little capacity within homeless sector to accommodate refugees ]
Zibusiso Moyo from Zimbabwe and Sibongiseni Malu from South Africa, speaking outside the International Protection Centre in Dublin, said they had nowhere to stay since Wednesday.
They landed in Dublin on Tuesday and were given a place to stay that night, but then told on Wednesday when they visited the centre that there was no accommodation for them.
“They told us there was nothing else they could do for us. We are in a very difficult position. We will have to sleep on the streets again.”
Contracted accommodation providers such as hotels and guest houses are being repeatedly contacted by officials but a Government source said there was a notable reluctance to take in single men.
Many of the providers have signalled that they will accept women and children, resulting in what one source described as a “very challenging situation.”
All options are once again under consideration including reassessing options with local authorities and the OPW. Some extra accommodation in Kildare, Athlone and Mullingar has been acquired.
Minister for Tourism Catherine Martin also raised the impact on the tourism industry during a meeting of the senior officials group. Hundreds of hotel rooms could revert to tourism purposes this spring but there was also a push for some of these hotels to renew contracts with the State to accommodate asylum seekers.
There are 46,000 Ukrainians in hotels and guest houses.
“My department has, at the senior officials group on Ukraine, communicated the potential challenges arising for the tourism ecosystem, particularly in those parts of the country where high proportions of the tourism accommodation stock are directed to humanitarian purposes,” Ms Martin said in a parliamentary response to Fianna Fáil TD Aindrias Moynihan.
[ Warning number of asylum seekers sleeping rough could double ]
Minister of State at the Department of Public Expenditure Patrick O’Donovan also said that in relation to modular homes, the main contractor had now established a framework of five suppliers with the capacity to produce the homes to the required standard.
“The production of the 700 homes required for the programme commenced in October, and the homes will be delivered on site on a phased basis from end January 2023 for installation as site enabling works are completed.”
It comes as another 17 asylum seekers were left without accommodation on Wednesday after being told the State was unable to source anywhere for them to stay. This brings to 24 the number of people seeking international protection who have been told this week that there was no space available because of a nationwide shortage. It is understood that the vast majority of those affected, if not all, are single men.
The Department of Integration has this week urged asylum seekers planning to travel from safe countries to defer their plans, citing the national shortage of available accommodation.