New protocol will identify families at risk of homelessness

Initiative comes as family homelessness and cost of hotel accommodation spiral

A new protocol to identify families at risk of losing their homes will be rolled out in Dublin in coming weeks.

As the number of families losing their homes in the capital continue to increase – and with it the cost of accommodating them in hotels – the Dublin Region Homeless Executive and the Department of Social Protection will announce the initiative "in six to eight weeks", a spokeswoman said.

Currently when a family at risk of losing their home approach their local authority, they are told there is little that can be done until they actually become homeless.

Under this system, such families will have a key worker assigned to them immediately to advise them of their rights and work with them to avoid homelessness. It will be part of a wider move to enhance homelessness-preventive measures.


184 adults with children
The latest figures from the Dublin Homeless Executive, which oversees services in the city's four local authority areas, indicate that as of last Thursday, there were 184 adults with children dependents in hotels or hostels.

The Irish Times is aware of another family, including five children between three and 19, who were accommodated in a hotel since then, having lost their home in Clondalkin after a 20 per cent rent increase.

This figure of 184 adults with children in emergency accommodation represents a continuation of a steady an increase, from 177 on February 14th, 128 on November 30th, 58 on May 31st, 2013, 26 on November 30th, 2012 and 16 on May 31st, 2012.

The cost of accommodating them is also spiralling, with the executive projecting it will spend €4.5 million on emergency hotel and hostel accommodation this year, up from €1.3 million spent last year and representing a 10-fold increase on the spend of €455,000 in 2012.

A senior source in the executive said this anticipated spend was “unsustainable”.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Social Protection said it was recognised there was a particular problem in Dublin.

Intervention system
"The Dublin local authorities in conjunction with voluntary organisations are currently engaging with the department in developing an inter-agency intervention system to identify vulnerable families who are in receipt of rent supplement and at risk of becoming homeless due to the imminent loss of their tenancy," she said.

“These cases will be assessed on an individual basis having regard to the individual circumstances and families requiring additional support will receive the necessary assistance, financial or otherwise.”

The executive is urging anyone who feels they may lose their home to contact a support agency as soon as possible, before they become homeless.

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Kitty Holland

Kitty Holland

Kitty Holland is Social Affairs Correspondent of The Irish Times