State spends €4.5m on single 'hub' for 50 homeless families
Some €4.5m is being spent on a single 'family hub' facility as the Government scrambles to have all homeless families moved out of hotels by July.
The Mater Dei hub, which is being prepared to be ready for occupation by the middle of June, will facilitate 50 families moving out of hotel accommodation following the deadline set by Housing Minister Simon Coveney.
Responding to questions in the Dáil yesterday, Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald said that the situation which saw 12 homeless families sent to Garda stations on Tuesday night was "unacceptable".
Mrs Fitzgerald described demand for accommodation that night as "exceptional".
"Over €15m is currently being invested in eight new facilities that will offer appropriate services for up to 240 families, including facilities for children, homework clubs, key workers and HAP [Housing Assistance Payment] place-finders on site, with families being able to look after themselves in those places," Mrs Fitzgerald said.
"Facilities at Mater Dei, Lynam's Hotel, Respond, Clontarf, Clonard Road, Ballyfermot, Dundrum and Coolock are well advanced, with the State investing €4.5m on the Mater Dei development alone," she added.
Mrs Fitzgerald also provided details of further family hub facilities due to be located outside of Dublin - in Cork, Limerick and Kildare.
"There will be facilities to accommodate 21 families in Cork and 18 families in Limerick," she said. "These developments are also being advanced.
"In Kildare, a facility for eight families will open over the coming week, operated by the Peter McVerry Trust," she added.
Mrs Fitzgerald was responding to scathing attacks from Fianna Fáil housing spokesman Barry Cowen, who said the situation had become a humanitarian crisis. Sinn Féin housing spokesman Eoin Ó Broin said there were 24 vacant houses for every homeless family.
Labour leader Brendan Howlin said up to 200,000 houses were vacant across the country but still 12 families were forced to go to a Garda station for shelter last Tuesday.
"There is no amount of discussion of policy that could inure us to the real impact of this ongoing crisis on 12 families," Mr Howlin said.