Friday 15 December 2017

Housing Minister Simon Coveney 'not happy' about adult hostels being used to accommodate homeless children

Housing Minister Simon Coveney. Photo: Tom Burke
Housing Minister Simon Coveney. Photo: Tom Burke

Cormac McQuinn, Political Correspondent

HOUSING Minister Simon Coveney has said he's “not happy” about adult hostels being used to accommodate homeless children.

“Of course I'm not happy about it,” he told reporters ahead of a conference on housing at Dublin Castle this morning.

“But I mean there's a lot of things linked to homelessness I'm very unhappy about which is why there's a sense of urgency now to change and improve the outcomes for many people who are relying on the State to find a home.”

Mr Coveney was responding to a report that homeless children are sleeping in adult hostels, in one instance on blow-up beds.

The latest homelessness figures show more than 1,000 homeless families with 2,121 children in emergency accommodation.

The Irish Times reported this morning that four families in Dublin had to be accommodated in adult hostels in the last week as there were no other options available.

Focus Ireland director Mike Allen said the use of such accommodation for children is “gravely concerning”. He warned that unless there's a radical response, there's a risk of families with children sleeping rough.

Asked what the government could do to tackle the issue, Mr Coveney replied: “We need to work with those that are providing emergency accommodation.

“The primary responsibility for that is of course on local authorities but we need to support them with the resources that they need.

“That's why for example I intervened to ensure that we could try and keep a a hostel not too far from here called Brú Aimsir open for a longer period than was planned and Dublin City Council are trying to be very helpful in that regard.

“There's a hundred beds there. It is a good quality emergency facility but we need to move people on from emergency facilities sooner than we've been able to to date and that again points back to the problem in terms of lack of supply.”

Mr Coveney raised the issue of the latest homelessness figures at the Housing Agency's annual conference.

“It is not acceptable that families are living in hotel rooms,” he said.

“It's not acceptable to be honest that we're spending nearly €50m on hotel rooms this year to accommodate families in totally unsuitable accommodation.

“It's not acceptable that many of them will be there for more than six months.

“This is a product of a failed housing market that government has a responsibility to address directly.

“And that is my number one focus for the lifetime of this government however long it lasts,” Mr Coveney added.

Online Editors

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