In recent years, Ireland has experienced a severe housing crisis precipitated by the economic collapse. The shortage of accommodation has impacted significantly on the capacity of persons with status to exit Direct Provision. Due to the lengthy waiting lists for social housing, the majority of people granted status have to seek accommodation in the private rental sector. However, the persistent growth in rent prices – already significantly higher than Celtic Tiger levels – poses a severe challenge for persons leaving Direct Provision.
In response, JRS Ireland sought to design an innovative project utilising the expertise and capacities of organisations working in the homelessness and asylum and immigration sectors to address the housing and support needs of people granted status who are experiencing difficulty in transitioning from Direct Provision.
The PATHS (Providing Asylum-seekers in Transition with Housing and Support) Project was launched in 2017, in partnership with The Peter McVerry Trust and with funding from the European Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF).
Based on the housing first model – which prioritises up front housing provision accompanied by wraparound, intensive and multidisciplinary supports – the PATHS Project seeks to assist persons granted status/permission to remain to exit Direct Provision in a timely manner by facilitating access to appropriate accommodation options and through the provision of comprehensive integration (education, employment, psychosocial, links to the community) supports throughout the transition process and beyond.
There are four key stages to the project:
Pre Transition: An initial needs assessment is conducted for each project household and a detailed housing profile created. Participants then meet on a weekly basis with the PATHS Team to deepen relationships, prepare for property viewings and address issues or concerns affecting the household.
Progression: Once a tenancy has been secured and all necessary paperwork has been filed with the Local Authority, the household is supported by the PATHS Team to manage a smooth transition into the property and a Welcome Pack is provided on arrival.
Short Term Integration: During the initial period after progression from Direct Provision, each household is contacted regularly by the PATHS Team to assess how the transition is impacting on their lives. Households are provided with information regarding services in the local community and supports are provided to access education and social welfare entitlements. Follow up visits are then scheduled according to need.
Long Term Integration: Data is gathered on an annual basis on key integration indicators for beneficiaries to inform wider research and policy in this area and in order to develop a scalable and sustainable model for housing people granted status that can be mainstreamed.