Family hubs not long-term solution to homelessness, Dáil told

Reports warn hubs run risk of replacing one problem with another, says Eoin Ó Broin

Some 70 per cent of homeless families have been in emergency accommodation for more than six months, Sinn Féin housing spokesman Eoin Ó Broin has claimed.

He said 40 per cent were in hotels and hostels for more than a year and there were at least 200 families in emergency accommodation for between 18 and 24 months.

Mr Ó Broin said the July deadline for moving families out of hotels and into permanent housing had not been met, and some would be moved into family hubs.

“I accept that purpose-built emergency accommodation for families is better than a hotel or bed-and-breakfast accommodation,” he added.


“However, it is not a home and cannot be presented as a solution to the homeless crisis.”

Mr Ó Broin said two reports, one by the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission and the other by Dr Mary Murphy and Dr Rory Hearne of NUI Maynooth, had warned that family hubs ran the risk of replacing one problem with another.

Independent inspections

He said the reports had called for independent inspections of all emergency accommodation, particularly those with children, a three-month legal limit to the length of time a family would stay, clear rehousing targets to give those families the homes they so desperately needed and a legal sunset clause that all hubs would be closed by 2019.

Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald said the Government was ring-fencing €5.3 billion in the budget up to 2021 to deliver 47,000 additional social houses.

She said the Government agreed commercial hotels, in the first instance, were not appropriate places for families to live.

More appropriate

Family hubs would provide more appropriate and suitable accommodation, she added.

“However, to be clear, we do not believe, and I know the deputy does not either, that family hubs are a long-term housing solution,” Ms Fitzgerald added.

“There is no question of that.’’

She said the reports made interesting points about ensuring family hubs did not become normalised and they should be seen as short-term solutions.

Mr Ó Broin said the problem was emergency accommodation was already a long-term reality for families.

It was up to the Government, he added, to take specific action to prevent family hubs becoming “long-term institutionalised settings’’ for families.

Michael O'Regan

Michael O'Regan

Michael O’Regan is a former parliamentary correspondent of The Irish Times