herald

Tuesday 11 December 2018

'We're making hotel owners rich' - €30m spent on homeless since January

Eoghan Murphy
Eoghan Murphy

Nearly €30m was spent on commercial hotels for homeless families in the first half of the year as the crisis continued to spiral.

Dublin City Council (DCC) has said the total spend on emergency accommodation will be even higher than last year.

A total of €29,324,221 was spent up until the end of June this year, and more than €59m was spent last year.

Last year's spend was €12m more than in 2016, despite the then Housing Minister Simon Coveney declaring a deadline for all families to be out of emergency accommodation by July 2017.

The figures show that spending on hotels and B&Bs rose from €13,727,346 in 2014 to nearly €60m in 2017.

While DCC expects the figure for this year to drop slightly, the overall spend on accommodating homeless families is on the rise again as it includes family hubs.

There has also been an increase in the number of homeless families.

"The provision of hubs has reduced reliance on hotels and commercial B&Bs and the cost of same should be lower in 2018 than in 2017," a spokeswoman for DCC said.

"However, the overall cost of emergency accommodation in 2018 (commercial properties, hubs, supported transition accommodation and hostels for singles) will be higher because there has been a continuing increase in demand (new presentations) during this year."

The spokeswoman added that hubs are considered emergency accommodation and are expensive to run.

Independent councillor Christy Burke said the numbers would continue to increase.

The former Lord Mayor called for high-level staff from DCC and the Department of Housing to come under one roof and work together to solve the crisis.

Millionaires

"It's increasing and all we're doing is making millionaires out of hotel and B&B owners," he said.

In June, the Herald revealed that almost 100 different hotels were still being used by the council for emergency accommodation.

A spokesman for the Department of Housing said: "The rate of homeless presentations continues to increase, al- beit at a slower pace compared to 2017 and an increased provision was secured for this purpose.

"Minister Eoghan Murphy has also provided additional accommodation through the provision of hubs and there are additional operational costs for these 500 family units."

The Peter McVerry Trust revealed last week that the homelessness crisis has taken hold outside urban areas and has become a rural issue too.

"I think we're starting to see the housing pressure move outside the cities and into the commuter belt and rural areas," a spokesman said.

"The mortgage arrears problem looks like it will be a bigger issue for rural Ireland. As a percentage of all residential mortgages in arrears, it's the rural counties leading the way."

The charity claimed that rural homelessness has increased by 30pc on last year and now stands at 1,200 people.

It said it was growing at such a pace that it would become a major issue as services did not exist there.

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