herald

Monday 16 July 2018

Homeless families still in nearly 100 hotels - a year after Coveney's exit date

Tanaiste Simon Coveney
Tanaiste Simon Coveney

Dublin City Council is using almost 100 different hotels for emergency accommodation - nearly a year after Simon Coveney's deadline to get homeless families out of them.

The Tanaiste and former housing minister set July 2017 as the date for hotels to no longer be used as temporary residences for families without homes.

Mr Coveney insisted they should only be used in "limited circumstances".

However, details released by the council last week revealed that 96 commercial hotels are still in use by the Dublin Regional Homeless Executive (DRHE) to provide emergency accommodation.

"There are approximately 96 commercial hotels in use that provide emergency accommodation to homeless families," the council said, in a response to a question at last week's monthly meeting.

Last year, the council spent €47m on hotel accommodation.

Eileen Gleeson, the director of the DRHE, has said that the figure for the first half of this year was down €6m on last year.

She added that this was partly due to the introduction of family hubs but that the numbers presenting as homeless were on the rise.

Value

"We've negotiated better value for money and because of the introduction of the hubs, we've less use of commercial properties," Ms Gleeson said at a housing meeting on Thursday.

"But the numbers are increasing that are coming into homelessness, so at all times we have to be on top of how we negotiate contracts to use emergency accommodation."

When asked about the number of hotels being used, the DRHE said the number includes other forms of emergency accommodation, including B&Bs .

The executive added that a number of new family hubs are to be created.

However, no timeframe has been provided for these.

"The DRHE have increased the number of family hubs to 17 in the Dublin region, with approximately 350 families being accommodated," a spokeswoman said.

"The full utilisation of these hubs is reducing the number of hotels needed.

"There are plans in place to open a number of new family hubs. There are approximately 700 families currently accommodated in commercial facilities.

"These facilities include hotels and B&Bs, both under negotiated contract and or self-accommodation basis.

"Within the context of increasing numbers of families presenting as homeless, the actual numbers accessing homeless services in Dublin is somewhat stabilising."

She added that this was mainly due to the work the DRHE is doing to get families out of homelessness.

Mr Coveney was not available for comment at the time of going to print.

A spokesman for current Housing Minister, Eoghan Murphy, said the number of families in hotels is below what it was at its height last year.

He said that 2,000 families were moved out of hotels.

Some 9,652 people still use emergency accommodation, according to last month's figures.

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