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Offering holiday homes to refugees is a non-runner, say homeowners

April 19th, 2022 1:30 PM

By Jackie Keogh

Senator Lombard said refugees need to be close to services and facilities, and not in rural areas.

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A PROPOSAL to house Ukrainian refugees in holiday homes is ‘not an option’ according to some owners.

‘The proposal comes far too late in the day because bookings for the season have already been taken,’ according to one person in Baltimore.

‘If it were off-season, or if we didn’t have the bookings already, we would have happily taken them,’ she said.

Lorcan Sirr, a senior lecturer in housing at Technology University Dublin, suggested this week that both privately-owned holiday homes and vacant build-to-rent developments could be used to house Ukrainian refugees at a nominal rate of about €300 or €400 a month. He estimated that if 20% of the 62,000 unoccupied holiday homes in the country could be secured, then 30,000 Ukrainian refugees could be accommodated quickly.

‘We are booked out at €800 a week,’ the woman in Baltimore told The Southern Star.

‘This is our livelihood and we only have our summer season to carry us through.

‘My heart goes out to the Ukrainian refugees,’ she added, ‘but it is not an option.  It is very difficult to overlap something like that with the tourism sector.’

Mr Sirr described holiday homes as ‘low hanging fruit’ in that they offered a more immediate solution to the demand for accommodation, compared to a building programme that would take much longer to complete. He maintained holiday homes would provide ‘a good stream’ of housing because they do compete with the rental sector.

After two years of Covid restrictions, he acknowledged that hotels want their accommodation back for the holiday season.

But many people who own their own holiday homes in West Cork are looking forward to using the properties themselves after two years of restrictions.

Senator Tim Lombard has called for ‘greater sensitivity when accommodating Ukrainian refugees – most of whom are women and children – because they have been displaced and traumatised by the war waged on their country by Russia.

‘The last thing they want is to find themselves in draughty old community halls that are not fit for purpose,’ said the senator, ‘or in the middle of a holiday resort that might not be appropriate to their needs.

‘To provide accommodation in out-of-town settings would,’ he added, ‘place these people at a serious disadvantage in terms of accessing basic services including GP care, social welfare services, or even the basics like shopping for groceries.

‘We are almost in the month of May and the majority of holiday homes have been rented,’ he said. ‘There is no doubt in mind that it’s too late to go down that line.

‘However, I do believe it could be a viable option at the end of the season.’

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