Sunday 23 September 2018

Homeless families 'will be moved out of capital' during Pope's visit

Emergency accommodation sought as demand for hotel rooms to soar

Pope Francis
Pope Francis

Ryan Nugent

HOMELESS families face being moved out of Dublin due to demand for hotel rooms during peak tourist months, including the visit of Pope Francis in August.

An influx of tourists to the city will see demand for hotel rooms spike, as more than 600,000 are due to attend events when the pontiff visits the capital.

Dublin Regional Homeless Executive (DRHE) says it will pursue all alternatives for emergency accommodation as the pressure on space mounts this summer.

A spokeswoman for the DRHE said it did not expect the visit to affect families already in hotels, but did not rule out it affecting those presenting as newly homeless.

The DRHE says that hotels outside the capital may have to be used in such situations – but it’s up to homeless families to find accommodation, which the DRHE will then pay for.

It is understood there is an upper threshold for what can be spent by the DRHE on hotel rooms.

(stock photo of a homeless person)
(stock photo of a homeless person)

The homeless executive says that emergency units can also be brought into use temporarily to help deal with major events – such was the case during recent severe weather events and concerts.

“The DRHE closely monitors the demand for emergency accommodation and has contingency plans in place that provide additional bed capacity when required,” a spokeswoman said.

“The DRHE actively pursues all accommodation options, which may include providing accommodation outside the Dublin region, to ensure that families are provided with emergency accommodation when needed.”

However, speaking to Independent.ie last night, campaigner for the homeless Fr Peter McVerry said the demand for rooms will also affect homeless families currently in hotels.

Fr McVerry said that families will be told during busy summer months that they have to move out.

“Families who are already in hotels will be told that the hotels are pre-booked and told you have to move out,” Fr McVerry said.

He also criticised the self-accommodation system in operation, which means families have to source their own accommodation, saying it is an added stress for those already struggling.

The campaigner added that the Department of Housing must start building social housing on a large scale and that vacant properties across the country must be bought by Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) to allay the crisis.

City councillor Christy Burke said he has dealt with Dublin families who have had to find accommodation in both Kildare and Louth.

He added that it was regrettable that families were having to stay in hotels in any part of the country, but that for them having to travel outside of their area for accommodation only made the situation more difficult.

A spokesman for the Department of Housing said that the DRHE currently has 41 units of contingency accommodation in place, with a further 30 to be added this month.

The number of families in homelessness across the country is 1,712.

Irish Independent

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