Dublin homeless helpline cost over €1m to run in 2015

Housing campaigner condemns freephone line as a ‘scandalous waste of money’

The freephone line used by homeless people to access emergency accommodation in Dublin cost more than €1 million to operate last year, according to Dublin City Council figures.

Independent councillor Mannix Flynn said the cost was excessive and represented a "scandalous waste of money" which could be used to provide homes.

The Dublin Region Homeless Executive, which was set up by Dublin City Council, operates a placement service to allocate accommodation to homeless families and individuals.

People in need of a bed for the night can call the service’s “homeless helpline” from 2pm-2am Monday to Friday and 10am–2am on weekends and bank holidays.


Four city council staff man the line, with additional staff rostered at various times.

Figures released by the council show that the phoneline cost about €1,011,401 to run in 2015.

A small proportion of that, €8,822, was spent on office costs such as electricity and stationery, while €333,799 went on staff pay and €668,800 was spent on the phone bill.


A spokeswoman for the council said 61,875 calls were made to the helpline in 2015.

Callers are on hold for an average of 10 minutes and about 250 people are placed in emergency accommodation each night.

Mr Flynn said the service did not represent value for money.

“There has been no oversight. There was no tendering process and we haven’t been shown the contracts.

“This is a dreadful waste of public money – €1 million could buy you 10 houses, maybe more, and could certainly help pay people’s rent. It’s ethically and morally wrong that money is being squandered like this.”

Meanwhile, the number of children living in emergency accommodation has fallen for the first time this year.

The drop is slight, with 2,012 children living in hotels, B&Bs and other emergency facilities in August, compared with 2,020 in July.

A recent count by the Simon Community found 228 people sleeping rough in Dublin city centre.

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly is Dublin Editor of The Irish Times