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Lack of housing provision 'is keeping hundreds homeless'

An official review shows very few homeless people are moving on into long-term accommodation, according to reports.

A couple keeping warm on O'Connell  Bridge
A couple keeping warm on O'Connell Bridge
Image: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

Updated, 4.45pm

A SHORTAGE OF Government-provided housing is hampering homeless support services from moving people out of emergency shelters and into long-term accommodation, a charity has said.

Organisations working for homeless people have lined services up to move clients out of emergency beds – but there is nowhere for many of them to go, according to Focus Ireland.

The news comes amid debate on possible uses for buildings left empty by the recession.

Focus Ireland was reacting to a report from Carl O’Brien in the Irish Times, which cites an unpublished official review revealing that only 90 of 2,677 people using homeless services in Dublin had moved on to longer-term housing.

“Over the last few years there’s been a concerted move to move people on from emergency accommodation into long-term housing with support,” said Roughan McNamara, a spokesman for the charity. “The missing piece is that there’s been a total failure by the State to provide housing.”

He said organisations in the homeless sector had shifted services and staff from basic emergency provision to longer-term solutions, but that a lack of housing was “the blockage in the system”.

A spokesman for the Dublin Simon Community said they had found the same. “People are now retained for longer periods in homeless accommodation due to the lack of available ‘move on’ long-term accommodation,” he said.

Long periods spent in emergency accommodation can be “very damaging” for people, McNamara said. “The person is being built up ready to move on” with education and training support, “but then there isn’t a move on. You can imagine how demotivating that must be.”

In its pre-Budget submission, Focus Ireland said that providing long-term housing would actually save the Government money as it is more economical than emergency accommodation. A bed in emergency provision costs as much as €30,000 annually, while a home with support is around €14,500, the charity said.

More: 72 per cent of homeless women experience violence or abuse as children>

Column: What it’s like to be homeless over Christmas>

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Michael Freeman

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