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Thursday 8 December 2016

Number of homeless families continues to increase as Dublin faces 'unprecedented' housing crisis

Cormac Fitzgerald

Published 15/07/2015 | 15:56

A homeless man makes his way up Dublin's Grafton Street in the early hours, looking for a place to bed down for the night.
5/12/14
Pic Frank Mc Grath
A homeless man makes his way up Dublin's Grafton Street in the early hours, looking for a place to bed down for the night. 5/12/14 Pic Frank Mc Grath

The number of families staying in emergency homeless shelters in Ireland has increased once again.

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There were 565 families living in homeless accommodation in May, with 490 of them in Dublin. 

There were a total 1,211 children, 1,034 (or 90pc) of them were in Dublin.

As the number of homeless families increases, the amount being spent on housing them continues to grow: Dublin City Council spent over €1.6m on hotels for homeless families in the first three months of this year.

On a given day in May there were 340 families living in commercial hotels in Dublin.

Fr Peter McVerry, founder and director of the Peter McVerry Trust, said that said that this figure could “destroy the government’s chances at reelection”, and that housing will be a bigger issue for the government than Irish Water if something isn’t done soon.

“Housing and homelessness are already at a crisis level, but they are going to get much worse between now and the next election,” he said.

Read more: Hotels for homeless cost €7.1m in just three months

Read more: Dublin City Council facing shortfall of €18.5m for homelessness services  

Figures released yesterday by Dublin City Council reveal that there are over 42,000 people in the city waiting for a home.

Local Sinn Féin councillor, Daithí Doolan, said that Dublin is in the midst of an “unprecedented housing crisis”, but he believes the Environment Minister Alan Kelly continues to ignore it. 

“He continues to ignore our request to meet and discuss solutions to this crisis. This inaction is turning the crisis into a state of emergency,” said Cllr Doolan.

Disconnect

Furthermore, experts on homelessness and city councillors believe that the housing problem in Dublin is made worse by a 'disconnect' between local and national Government.

“There seems to be some major disconnect in terms of how the different elements add up,” Director of Advocacy with Focus Ireland Mike Allen said.

“There’s a lot of people working very hard and there’s a lot of people getting very frustrated,” he said.

Last week, Dublin City Council announced a €18.5m shortfall in their homeless budget for 2015. As a result, councillors fear that homeless services will grind to a halt by the end of the year.

A spokesperson for the Department of Justice told Independent.ie that Minister Kelly was aware that there was a very challenging situation and that he had made substantial funding available to deal with social housing.

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