Use of B&Bs to house homeless families rises sharply

ISPCC calls for urgent construction of hundreds of prefabricated housing units

The ISPCC says it is “deeply concerned” at the numbers of households with children becoming homeless and living in accommodation it calls “unsuitable” and “ill-equipped to meet their needs”. File photograph: David Ryder/Reuters

The ISPCC says it is “deeply concerned” at the numbers of households with children becoming homeless and living in accommodation it calls “unsuitable” and “ill-equipped to meet their needs”. File photograph: David Ryder/Reuters

 

The use of hotels and B&Bs to accommodate homeless families with children should be banned here, as it is in other jurisdictions, the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (ISPCC) has said.

In its pre-budget submission, the ISPCC says it is “deeply concerned” at the numbers of households with children becoming homeless and living in accommodation it calls “unsuitable” and “ill-equipped to meet their needs”.

“We are concerned that children’s safety could be severely at risk unless safe and secure places to play are provided for children, [as well as] safe cooking and washing facilities, and access to communal areas that are well-monitored,” the ISPCC states.

“To protect children, other countries have placed bans on the provision of unsuitable hostel or other emergency accommodation for children . . . and the ISPCC believes a similar approach is necessary in Ireland. ”

The ISPCC’s call comes as the latest figures from the Department of the Environment, published late on Friday evening, show the numbers of homeless families and children continuing to climb.

Homelessness data

The ISPCC also calls for the “urgent” construction of up to 400 prefabricated units of temporary housing in Dublin.

“All evidence points to an urgent and ongoing need for purpose-designed temporary accommodation for households with children in urban centres such as Dublin and Cork. The ISPCC expects that Dublin will require development or redesign of up to 400 accommodation units for this purpose and that demand will remain for this accommodation for the next three to five years,” says the submission.

Dublin City Council will next month put on display examples of prefabricated “modular” housing that could be used to accommodate homeless families now in emergency accommodation.

There are currently 1,185 children, in 556 families, in emergency accommodation in Dublin. Some have been there for up to two years as escalating rents make it difficult for low-income households to find new accommodation.

The backing of the ISPCC for prefabricated dwellings – which could be assembled on-site within weeks – to accommodate homeless families will greatly assist Dublin Region Homeless Executive officials, who faced opposition from councillors when the proposal was first mooted almost a year ago.

The submission sets out six further priorities for the Government in framing the budget. Among these are that every child should have “an adequate standard of living”; an increase in the budget for child and adolescent mental health services; and the establishing of drug treatment services for under-18s nationally.