Dublin hotel bill for homeless families to hit €4.5m

Likely spend by homeless executive represents a 10-fold increase in two years

Beds at a hostel for homeless people in  Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill.

Beds at a hostel for homeless people in Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill.

Mon, May 5, 2014, 01:00

The Dublin Region Homeless Executive expects to spend €4.5 million on emergency hotel accommodation for homeless families this year, The Irish Times has learned.

This compares with €1.3 million spent last year and represents a 10-fold increase on the €455,000 it spent on hotels for homeless families in 2012.

The executive, which oversees homeless services across the capital’s four local authorities, is now using more than 20 hotels and hostels as the number of families with children presenting for emergency accommodation continues to increase. A spokeswoman said they were under “intense pressure”, adding they were not always able to provide accommodation.

She said that as of last Thursday there were 184 adults with children accommodated in hotels in Dublin, up from 177 on February 14th.

These numbers are up significantly on the 16 adults and dependent children in hotel accommodation on May 31st, 2012 and on the 26 adults with children on November 30th, 2012.

On May 31st, 2013, there were 58 adults with children in hotels, and this had risen to 128 adults with children in emergency hotel accommodation by November 30th last.

The spokeswoman said if families continued presenting for emergency accommodation – ie hotel or hostel – at the current rate the executive would spend “in excess of €4 million”.

A senior source confirmed the figure would likely be about €4.5 million. He said this was “unsustainable”.

The rise in family homelessness is being attributed to rising rents and to caps on rent allowance that are too low.

All homeless services are at full capacity and, though hotel accommodation is “an emergency measure to avoid rough sleeping”, even this cannot always be provided.

“On a daily basis,” said the spokeswoman for the homeless executive, “we are working to create alternative accommodation for the presenting need. We are continually adding additional accommodation capacity, however it is not always sufficient to meet the current demand.”

Local authorities around the State are also seeing an increase in family homelessness. In Limerick, a council spokesman said there had been “a clear rise in numbers presenting homeless or requiring support to prevent them from becoming homeless”.

A spokesman for Galway City Council said numbers were fairly steady but beginning to increase.