Council to lease Nama building for homeless instead of hotels

Homeless ‘assessment centre’ to ‘fast-track’ families out of hotels

The council is to lease a Nama-controlled property in Dublin which will provide a minimum of 70 places for families and allow services for homeless families to be administered from a central facility.

The council is to lease a Nama-controlled property in Dublin which will provide a minimum of 70 places for families and allow services for homeless families to be administered from a central facility.

Tue, Jul 15, 2014, 01:00

Several Nama-controlled properties around Dublin have been identified as potential locations for a new emergency accommodation centre for homeless families.

About 150 families with 311 children are living in 21 hotels in the Dublin area. They were moved into them as emergency measures after contacting services for the homeless.

The council is to lease a Nama-controlled property which will provide a minimum of 70 places for families and allow services for homeless families to be administered from a central facility.

The new facility is being referred to by the council as a homeless “assessment centre” to “fast-track” families out of hotels and into long-term accommodation.

Hotel expense

Director of the Dublin Region Homeless Executive Cathal Morgan told a city council meeting last night the use of commercial hotels was not sustainable and represented the least cost-effective emergency response to homelessness. However, it had been necessary to bring them into use to avoid a situation where families were “left on the street”, he said. “Families are coming into homelessness at an unacceptable rate.”

The use of hotels at 21 different locations has also caused difficulties for staff now “hugely stretched” in undertaking assessments of need and providing support to families, he said. The council, with Nama, has identified four to five properties – not all hotels – Mr Morgan said, now being assessed for suitability for the centre.

Budget shortfall

The council is short of at least €6 million this year to cope with the “crisis-level demand” for homeless emergency beds.

In its 2014 budget, it set aside €750,000 for hotel rooms, but it expects the bill to exceed €4 million for the year.

It has also committed to providing 80 more beds for rough sleepers by the end of September. This will cost about €2.5 million the council said it does not have. Council management intends to seek 90 per cent of the shortfall from central Government.

In addition to the emergency measures, the council plans to change the way it allocates social housing to prioritise homeless households. Last year, less than 10 per cent of social housing went to households on the homeless list. The council’s current policy is 50 per cent of all available houses are allocated to housing list applicants, which include homeless people; and 50 per cent go to people already social housing tenants, but seeking transfers from current accommodation.

The council’s assistant chief executive with responsibility for housing, Dick Brady, said there were more than 19,000 applicants on the housing waiting lists, compared to some 5,500 tenants on the transfer list.