herald

Wednesday 23 August 2017

City spends nearly €22m on stopgap hotels and B&Bs

A homeless man makes his way up Dublin's Grafton Street in the early hours, looking for a place to bed down for the night.
A homeless man makes his way up Dublin's Grafton Street in the early hours, looking for a place to bed down for the night.

THE Dublin City Council-run Homeless Executive spent at least €21.8m on stop-gap accommodation including hotels, B&Bs and apartments last year.

This figure is nearly double what was spent in 2013.

Last year's spending included €4.5m on hotels, €13.2m on private emergency accommodation such as B&Bs, apartments and €3.8m on other temporary emergency accommodation.

Anthony Flynn, the director of the charity group Inner City Helping the Homeless, said the budget for homelessness is "a black hole".

"They're spending on short-term solutions for a long-term problem," he told the Herald.

"I've already asked that the City Manager analyse the budget for homeless services because it needs a complete overhaul.

"We've been saying for the last 16 months that the budget is a black hole. It's not sustainable."

The most shocking increase can be seen in the amount spent on hotel accommodation which has increased tenfold since 2012, the earliest figures available due to a funding change.

Around €10m was spent on supported temporary accommodation, which according to a spokesperson for the Dublin Region Homeless Executive is designed to move people to a point where they can live alone.

Meanwhile, the figures for long-term accommodation and outreach services were substantially lower.

A total of €7.8m was spent on long-term supported accommodation while €3.5m was spent on homelessness prevention such as outreach and information services.

The death of homeless man Jonathan Corrie in December only metres from the Dail led to an emergency summit in the Mansion House.

Environment Minister Alan Kelly pledged an additional €25m to tackle the issue.

However, Mr Flynn believes this has not filtered down to those on the streets or who are in emergency accommodation.

Sam McGuinness of the Dublin Simon Community said a number of factors have combined to cause the current situation, not least the housing shortage in the capital.

"Emergency accommodation is becoming more and more long-term because the difficulty is that there's a shortage of housing for everybody," he said.

"The critical issue for the Government is to focus on prevention to stop the numbers growing further."

Overall, services cost more than €56m last year in the Dublin region, a €9m increase in overall costs in only 12 months.

Between 2010 and 2014, a total of €238m was spent on homelessness services, but the biggest spike in expenditure was seen last year.

hnews@herald.ie

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