Sunday 22 January 2017

Council pays €1m a week to shelter homeless

Huge spend on emergency accommodation in capital

Gordon Deegan

Published 19/12/2016 | 02:30

Homeless numbers are continuing to grow. Photo: Douglas O'Connor
Homeless numbers are continuing to grow. Photo: Douglas O'Connor

Dublin City Council is paying hotels, hostels and other emergency accommodation providers almost €1m a week to shelter the spiralling numbers of homeless in the capital.

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That is according to new figures from the Dublin Regional Homeless Executive (DRHE) which show for the nine months to the end of September the spend on emergency accommodation for the homeless totalled €34.85m in Dublin.

The average weekly spend on emergency accommodation works out at €968,148.

Last year, the city council paid city hoteliers €16.6m to provide accommodation for the homeless and the new figures show that €26.6m in payments has been made to hotels in the nine months to the end of September, outstripping the 2015 total by €10m.

The payments to hoteliers works out at €740,000 per week.

The spend for the first nine months coincided with the numbers of homeless families going over the 1,000 mark for the first time in Dublin at the end of September, a figure that included 2,065 children.

The September figures show that the numbers of children rendered homeless since the start of the year increased by 656.

The most recent figures show that there were 1,026 families homeless in Dublin, including 2,110 children.

The figures show that the payments to hoteliers in the quarter between the start of the July to the end of September is the highest ever recorded at over €10.3m.

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In addition, the city council paid emergency accommodation providers, including B&B and hostel owners €2.5m between July and September. For the first nine months, the B&B, hostel owners and other emergency providers have received €8.18m.

The budget for the entire year for payments to B&B and hostel owners along with other emergency providers is €9.1m and the actual spend in that area will easily top that based on the spend to the end of September.

However, the city council was budgeting for a €46m spend on hotels for the year and with the up-to-date figures showing a spend of €26.66m, the final spend will be well down on the €46m budgeted.

The figures show that between January and September of this year, a total of €69m has been spent on a variety of homeless services by local authorities in Dublin.

The projected budget for the year is €103.25m - more than double the spend in 2014.

Last month, the city council agreed a budget of almost €120m to be spent on homeless services next year.

Included in the 2016 spend is a €1m outlay on a freephone helpline service for the homeless in Dublin.

The new report by the Homeless Executive shows that the spend on the helpline to the end of September was €653,270

The figures show that the DRHE is budgeting to spend €1m this year on Merchant's Quay "Nite Cafe" and €822,249 on the cafe's services for the first nine months, while an additional €1m is budgeted to be spent on Focus Ireland's Open Access Coffee Shop, with €803,193 spent on the service between January and the end of September.

The amount to individual hotels remains confidential.

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Last year, in response to a Freedom of Information request, the city council declined to reveal what the 10 highest amounts paid to hotel operators/firms were or the top amounts received by privately owned hostels and B&Bs.

The council stated that these details are commercially sensitive and it could damage the negotiating position of the city council with private landlords/operators and could also result in further costs and the potential loss of accommodation.

The city council had previously published the names of hotels and payments on quarterly produced purchase orders, but discontinued this practice in 2015.

Irish Independent

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