Saturday 21 April 2018

Woman and her children forced to sleep in industrial estate after credit card for homeless 'maxed out'

Councillor Jack Chambers
Councillor Jack Chambers

Ryan Nugent and Alan O'Keeffe

Families were left without accommodation as Dublin City Council's homeless service maxed out on its credit card.

It's understood a number of individuals - including children - who had been previously allocated temporary accommodation had no alternative but to sleep on the streets as the homeless crisis deepened.

One case involved a woman and her young children.

They couldn't secure hotel accommodation after the credit card was found to be "maxed out".

The family were staying in private emergency accommodation (hotels or B&Bs) for a number of nights before they were informed that the credit card had reached its limit.

It's understood the young family then spent the night in an industrial unit.

According to Fianna Fail councillor Jack Chambers, the woman and her young children had to sleep at an industrial estate for the night.

DCC's Central Placement Service (CPS) uses the credit card to pay for emergency accommodation such as hotels for families that are homeless.

However, amid rising numbers, the credit card has reached its limit.

They are struggling to cope with the growing number of homeless people every day, according to a spokeswoman for the Dublin Regional Homeless Executive (DRHE), with 2015 numbers more than double that of 2014.

"The CPS had reached their maximum limit on the credit card due to the significant volume of families that are presenting to the local authorities as homeless on a daily basis and who are subsequently being accommodated in commercial hotels," a spokesperson for DRHE told the Herald.

The most recent figures, between June 22 and June 28, show that 531 families with dependent children were being allocated temporary accommodation. This is compared to 264 at the same time in 2014.


Cllr Jack Chambers was contacted by an individual who was homeless after the credit card maxed out.

"This is an extremely disturbing development in Dublin's spiralling homeless crisis," he said.

"Homeless families were out on the street this week because the funds were not there to provide temporary accommodation," said Mr Chambers.

The credit card issue went unresolved for two days before DCC's fund limit was increased. But, with hotels booked up on Thursday evening, several families were left without accommodation for a second night in a row.

"The fact that something as banal as a credit card reaching its limit is all it takes for a homeless family to be thrown out on the street will come as a shock to many," he added.

The Department of Environment told the Herald that the matter is under review.

"The Department meets weekly with DCC to discuss the homeless and housing situation," a representative said.

Meanwhile, rising numbers of home repossessions and dramatic increases in rents for accommodation in Dublin are causing deep concerns among charities fighting homelessness.

There are now 8,000 civil bills for repossessions of houses in the courts system. Both Focus Ireland and the Simon Community stated a significant factor was the failure to increase rent supplement rates.

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