73. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality further to parliamentary question number 125 of 22 November 2016, the progress which has been made in reducing the number of persons in direct provision that give their legal status, should not be in direct provision; the procedures or mechanisms which have been put in place to accurately qualify the number of persons in this position in view of the approximate figure of 500 in November 2016.; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40607/16]
Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality (Deputy David Stanton): Last month there were in the region of 500 persons with some form of status in the process of transiting to accommodation in the community. There are currently just over 460 persons in that position.
Statistical analysis shows that just over 220 persons moved out of State provided accommodation in November. RIA make an offer of accommodation to persons within the protection process and it is entirely their decision whether they avail of it. Similarly, given its voluntary nature, protection applicants can choose to move out of State provided accommodation while still in the protection process if they so wish. For this reason, the numbers of persons leaving State provided accommodation in November will include persons who are moving out because they have received some form of status as well as persons who are exercising their right to leave the voluntary system of State provided accommodation because they have decided to live elsewhere.
The number of persons with some form of status residing in State provided accommodation changes on an almost daily basis as people transition into accommodation in the community and people within the system receive a form of status.
There are measures in place to assist persons with status to transition to accommodation in the community including the 'Guide to independent living' which was developed by my Department with a view to providing such persons with practical assistance to help them move on with their lives. This document was published in parallel with information sessions coordinated by the Citizens Information Bureau in accommodation centres which gave an opportunity for such persons to seek assistance and clarification on the services provided. These information sessions are still taking place in RIA accommodation centres as new people are granted some form of status to allow them to remain in the country.
Notwithstanding the fact that persons cease to be ordinarily entitled to accommodation supports when some form of status is granted, RIA have always continued to provide such persons with continued accommodation until they secure their own private accommodation. RIA are particularly mindful of the reality of the housing situation in the State and the pressures on the Community Welfare Service in respect of Rent Supplement or the City and County Councils in respect of Housing Assistance Payments and Housing Lists. That said, the provision of housing for persons coming out of the protection process has been incorporated in the recently published Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness.