herald

Monday 5 December 2016

€16.3m bill to house homeless in hotels... for just six months

The Homeless Executive is preparing to spend another €1m on the helpline this year.
The Homeless Executive is preparing to spend another €1m on the helpline this year.

Dublin City Council spent €16.3m on hotel rooms for the homeless in the first six months of this year.

Figures provided by the Dublin Region Homeless Executive (DRHE) show that payments to hotels in the three month April to June period alone totalled €10m, or an average of €769,230 a week. The €16.3m for six months falls just short of the €16.6m spent on hotels for the whole of last year.

The figures show that between January and June of this year, €44m was spent on a variety of homeless services by local authorities in Dublin.

Scandalous

Earlier this week, the €1m spent last year on a freephone helpline service for the homeless in Dublin was criticised by Independent councillor Mannix Flynn as "a scandalous waste of money".

The Homeless Executive is preparing to spend another €1m on the helpline this year. From last January to June it spent €329,752 on the service.

The DRHE is budgeting to spend €102.5m on homeless services this year - more than twice what was spent in 2014.

However, the €44m spend for the first six months of this year suggests the 2016 total may not be as high as was budgeted for.

The DRHE said yesterday that 998 families were homeless in the Dublin region last month, an increase of 64pc on the total for September of last year.

The number of homeless children in emergency accommodation in August was 2,102.

In total, the outlay on rent for families in emergency accommodation in the first half of this year was €22m, made up of €16.3m paid to hotels and €5.7m paid to private providers of emergency accommodation.

The figures show that the DRHE is budgeting to spend €1m this year on the Merchants Quay Night Cafe.

The same figure is budgeted for Focus Ireland's Open Access Coffee Shop (€535,462 was spent on the service between January and June).

The amount paid to individual hotels remains confidential.

Last year, in response to a Freedom of Information request, Dublin City Council declined to reveal the 10 highest amounts paid to hotel operators or firms.

The council said these details are commercially sensitive and it could damage the negotiating position of the city council with private landlords and operators.

It could also result in further costs and the potential loss of accommodation.

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