herald

Saturday 1 October 2016

Number of children in emergency beds tops 2,000 for the first time

A homeless person braves the cold on Ha’penny Bridge (Stock picture)
A homeless person braves the cold on Ha’penny Bridge (Stock picture)

The number of children living in homeless accommodation in Dublin has passed the 2,000 mark for the first time.

Dublin Region Homeless Executive (DRHE) began collating statistics on people living in homeless accommodation last year. The latest figures show a 79pc increase in the number of families in emergency accommodation, from 556 in July last year to 939 last month.

Slammed

The number of children in emergency accommodation rose by 70pc from 1,185 to 2,020 in the same period.

Groups working with the homeless slammed the figures, with the Dublin Simon Community calling the increase "astounding".

In a statement, the charity said it "highlighted the need for the implementation of measures to tackle the homeless crisis".

"The continuing rise in the number of vulnerable families and children becoming homeless highlights once again the urgent need for the implementation of the Housing and Homeless Action Plan," it said.

"The new action plan has outlined measures to limit the use of emergency accommodation for families in Dublin and ensure that hotels are only used in limited circumstances by mid-2017.

"It promises 1,000 rapid housing units by 2016 and 800 by 2017."

Independent Dublin councillor Christy Burke, who campaigns on behalf of the homeless, was outraged by the latest homelessness stat- istics.

He said he was considering helping to take a legal action against the State on behalf of eight to 10 homeless families.

"This situation - what an indictment of a person's or a family's civil liberties. Nothing has changed," he said.

"I go out two nights a week as a volunteer for the homeless and I could have told you nothing is getting better. It's getting worse.

"It's an indictment. It's a breach of civil liberties and human rights.

"There's a lot of things that can be done - buy back properties, go to auctions, increase rent allowance by 30pc, not 15pc.

"At the very least we need to stop the appalling act of the inhumane conditions for these children."

Last month marked the launch of the Government plan to tackle the housing crisis, called Rebuilding Ireland.

A budget of €5bn for social housing over the next five years and the establishment of a new Housing Procurement Office were among the actions listed in the document.

Urgent

Dublin Simon said there was an urgent need for the "comprehensive actions" laid out in the plan to be implemented.

"This ambitious and detailed plan makes it clear that housing and homelessness is a top government priority," it said.

"For the first time we are seeing genuine cross-department and agency partnerships in order to provide solutions for people who are homeless, with a particular emphasis on moving people out of homelessness and prevention measures to keep people in their own homes."

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