Housing Minister says progress on homelessness is ‘still too slow’
Eoghan Murphy rejects suggestion housing hubs are equivalent to direct provision centres
Eoghan Murphy says it is his aim to get every single family out of homelessness Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins
Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Eoghan Murphy has said progress on tackling homelessness is “still too slow” as figures show the number of homeless children is more than 3,000 for the first time.
Mr Murphy said it is his aim to get every single family out of homelessness
and acknowledged that the homeless situation had reached crisis levels with the number of homeless families going up by 13 month on month. However he said he was encouraged by the situation in Dublin where the numbers had gone down significantly.
According to the figures from the Department of Housing for the week 21st to 27th August, there are now 3,048 children in 1,142 families in emergency accommodation nationally, which marks an increase from 2,973 children in 1,429 families in July this year.
This represents a 29 per cent increase since August 2016 when there were 2,363 children in 1,151 families homeless. The total homeless population in August this year was 8,270, compared with 8,160 in July and 6,611 in August last year.
In Dublin last month there were 2,379 homeless children, in 1,146 families last month which marks a slight decrease since July, when there were 2,243 children in 1,178 families in emergency accommodation in the capital.
Speaking in Cork, Mr Murphy said: “We have a crisis with regards to homelessness in this country. . . We know that when it comes to homeless families, one homeless family is a family too many and what we have seen today unfortunately is that nationally, it has gone up by 13 families.
“In Dublin where most of the families are, the numbers have gone down quite significantly so we are starting to see signs of progress but it’s still too slow. We need to do more and that’s why we are putting in more supports up and down the country to help people in very difficult circumstances.”
Mr Murphy said that the net figure in Dublin for families exiting homelessness in August was 32 families which, coming on top of 102 families who ended up homeless during the same period, meant that a total of 134 families were assisted out of homelessness in the capital in August.
“We need to do more but it is good to see signs of that type of progress because for a number of months prior to August, we were actually seeing an increase in numbers but now for the first time we are seeing a decline in the figures for homelessness in Dublin,” he said.
Mr Murphy said that his immediate priority was to get every family out of hotel and B & B accommodation. He said the hub model where families are accommodated in specially designed communal quarters was an emergency response to that situation which was working.
He pointed out that he had recently announced funding of €10 million for family hubs at the Housing Summit to add to the €35 million which had already been committed but he rejected suggestions by some homeless campaigners that hubs were equivalent to direct provision centres.
“Any comparison of hubs to direct provision shows a lack of understanding what a hub is. A hub is a first response for a family that has fallen into emergency accommodation - it’s all the wrap around supports to protect that family and the children and their needs in that very difficult time.
“The hub programme as a first response before we move people into more sustainable solutions- if you look at the hubs we have today like the Mater Dei facility in Dublin - it opened in June and already 50per cent of the people who arrived in June have moved into more sustainable accommodation.”
Mr Murphy said that the long term solution was to build more housing and a rolling analysis of the Rebuilding Ireland programme showed that it was working with construction notices this year up some 40 per cent on last year and planning permissions were similarly up 40 per cent this year on last.
“ Similarly connections to the ESB grid are up 33 per cent in Dublin and nationally about 22 per cent so we know things are happening but we know more needs to happen- that’s why over the last few months, I’ve been announcing new things that we’ve been doing like providing more social housing next year.”