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More homeless families living in hotels, despite Government claim that hubs are 'best response' to crisis

More families are continuing to live in hotels a year after the government pledged to end the practice.

The former Lynam's Hotel in Dublin, which has since become a family hub
The former Lynam's Hotel in Dublin, which has since become a family hub
Image: Leah Farrell/Rollingnews

THE NUMBER OF families living in hotels and B&Bs has continued to rise across the country, despite claims that family hubs are the “preferred response” to the homeless crisis.

Figures from the Dublin Region Homeless Executive show that there were more than 800 families in hotels and B&Bs in June, 12 months after the government’s self-imposed deadline to end the practice.

By comparison, just 530 families were placed in so-called Supported Emergency Accommodation – including family hubs and ‘own door’ accommodation’ – the same month.

The hubs were introduced last year by former Minister for Housing Simon Coveney, who pledged to remove homeless families from commercial hotels and B&Bs by 1 July 2017 – a promise that had to be rowed back on.

Unlike hotels and B&Bs, the hubs are designed to act as a longer-term form of accommodation, and include play space for children and cooking and laundry facilities for families who live in them.

Around 20 such facilities exist in Dublin, which are overseen by a number of different homeless charities and private operators, assisted by the DRHE.

Family hubs Figures showing the number of people living in homeless family hubs since their introduction in June 2017 Source: Dublin Region Homeless executive

Direct provision

Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy has indicated the placement of families in hubs is a priority, previously referring to the move as “the preferred first response” for those who enter emergency accommodation. 

However, others have complained that the hubs ‘normalise’ homelessness, comparing to the direct provision system for asylum seekers.

A spokesman for charity Inner City Helping Homeless told TheJournal.ie that the hubs were “far from the answer” to the homeless crisis.

“Millions have been spent on these family hubs, but families that are resident in them relay stories about how children are unable to have friends over to visit or for sleepovers,” the spokesman said.

“Meals are at a set time daily in the hubs where food is provided, and one family told us they feel like prisoners despite having done nothing wrong.

“The Government are spending huge amounts of money, but are spending it in the wrong places.”

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Presentations The number of families who presented to and exited emergency accommodation in Dublin during the first six months of 2018 Source: Dublin Region Homeless Executive

Meanwhile, figures from the DRHE also showed that more families entered emergency accommodation in the capital during the first six months of the year than those who left.

Statistics presented to Dublin City Council’s Finance Committee revealed that 554 families entered emergency accommodation between January and June, compared with 323 families who exited homelessness.

In a statement, the Department of Housing said that the Minister acknowledged that the numbers presenting to homeless services in the Dublin region remained a concern.

A spokesman added that Murphy has requested that the Dublin Regional Homeless Executive coordinates an action plan for each of the four local authorities in Dublin, including plans to increase the number of hub spaces available.

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