Homeless in ‘family hubs’ long term ‘should complain’

Families to be moved from hotels and into ex-religious buildings from next month

Dr Niall Muldoon, Ombudsman for Children, launching his annual report 2016. He said “family hubs” were “a positive step forward” but “a temporary solution to a long-term problem”.  Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Dr Niall Muldoon, Ombudsman for Children, launching his annual report 2016. He said “family hubs” were “a positive step forward” but “a temporary solution to a long-term problem”. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

Homeless families due to be moved from hotels into “family hubs” in the coming weeks, should be there for no longer than six months and should complain if they are, the Ombudsman for Children has said.

Speaking at the publication of his office’s 2016 annual report, Dr Niall Muldoon said “family hubs” were “a positive step forward” but “a temporary solution to a long-term problem”.

Asked whether there should be a report on where homeless families are six months after they are moved into family hubs, he said: “Absolutely. As with any plan there has to be a monitoring process built around that.”

“I’d certainly encourage people to come to us. We may not be able to do what they want which is to guarantee them a place but the more information we have, the stronger our case when we go to the Oireachtas committee, when we go to the Minister, we can speak those voices for them.”

Laundry facilities

Dr Muldoon’s intervention comes as Dublin local authorities prepare to move families, currently in emergency hotel accommodation, into facilities with cooking and laundry facilities, dining area, homework clubs, play areas, as well as bedrooms.

The nine “family hubs” due to open next month are in former religious buildings, industrial premises, large family homes and one former hotel.

Minister for Housing Simon Coveney has set a deadline of July 1st to end use of hotels for homeless families, saying they would be in hubs for six months during which time they would receive intensive assistance finding long-term housing.

The latest figures, for the week of March 20th to 26th, show there were 1,069 homeless families, including 2,134 children, in Dublin. Of these 815 families are in hotels.

‘Positive step forward’

Dr Muldoon said: “Family hubs are a positive step forward, there’s no doubt about it. But we have all got to recognise . . . that this is a six-month scenario and you’ve got to move on from it.

“We want to get past the idea of kicking it down the road and [it’s important] we don’t take our eye off the ball.”

He said Mr Coveney had promised, when publishing Rebuilding Ireland – his strategy on the housing crisis – in July 2016, quarterly updates on its different pillars.

“I haven’t seen that happening yet . . . Also it’s not just the number of houses you build it’s what else is happening in the interim periods that are crucial.”