Dublin councils set to deliver just 142 of 950 family hub units

Meeting targets by end of 2018 is not possible, says Dublin Region Homeless Executive

Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy  wrote to Dublin local authority chief executives demanding more progress be made delivering hubs. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times

Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy wrote to Dublin local authority chief executives demanding more progress be made delivering hubs. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times

 

Dublin local authorities are set to fall well short of demands from Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy to provide 950 new homeless family hub units by the end of the year.

The four Dublin councils combined expect to deliver just 142 new family hub spaces by the year end. In early September Mr Murphy wrote to Dublin local authority chief executives demanding more progress be made delivering hubs, and threatened to take powers to provide emergency accommodation under the control of his department if targets were missed.

In a report to Mr Murphy, Eileen Gleeson, head of the Dublin Region Homeless Executive (DRHE), said achieving the family hub targets “will not be possible” by the end of 2018. The targets set “are very challenging in the context of the current property market in the Dublin area”, the report said.

Family hubs were introduced as an alternative to housing homeless families in hotel rooms, and most provide cooking and recreational facilities, as well as support services.

Dublin City Council said it expected to deliver 47 units between two new hubs by the end of the year, well below its target of 300. South Dublin County Council (39 units) and Fingal County Council (48) would also miss targets for an extra 300 hub spaces each.

Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council said it would provide one hub, delivering eight of its targeted 50 units. The DRHE report was released to The Irish Times under the Freedom of Information Act.

There was a pipeline of 500 planned extra hub units across the four local authorities, but only 213 were confirmed to be delivered in 2019. Negotiations over properties for further hubs hoped to be opened next year were still ongoing, a spokeswoman for DRHE said.

In the past two years 20 family hubs have been opened in Dublin, providing 500 spaces for homeless families.

‘Unrealistic targets’

Senior figures across the local authorities said since Mr Murphy had written to chief executives, there had been a realisation the initial targets were “unrealistic”. Difficulties sourcing appropriate properties outside of the city centre to convert into hubs had also been relayed to the Minister.

Two senior sources in separate Dublin councils suggested the targets were more likely an attempt to provide political cover for Mr Murphy, than to be achievable aims expected to be met.

There were barriers to securing properties seen as potential hubs, including “excessive demands on price, conditions of properties, unsuitable locations, competition from developers”, the homeless executive’s report said.

A spokesman for the Department of Housing said following the indication that targets would not be met by councils, Mr Murphy would “keep all delivery options open”.

The DRHE report said while hubs were an appropriate response to families in homelessness, the ultimate goal should “put a greater emphasis” on longer term housing solutions.

Statistics showed a third of families presenting as homeless in Dublin were non-nationals, many of whom do not have entitlements to housing support, the report said. Current policy is to offer this cohort emergency accommodation on a night-by-night basis.

However, legislation and guidance was “urgently needed” from the department on how these families should be dealt with into the future, the DRHE report said.