More than 90 families presented as homeless in first six months of 2019
Over 160 individuals and families have presented as homeless to Wicklow County Council in the first six months of this year.
The council said in a statement that it is facing significant challenges in dealing with homelessness.
'From January 1 to June 20 2019, of the 167 presentations to Wicklow County Council, over 90 were families,' they said.
'Currently, there are 20 families (with 40 children) and six individuals in various types of emergency accommodation.
'The council's Homeless Team assesses the need of the families presenting and determine where emergency accommodation provision is available. It should be noted that emergency accommodation can be increasingly difficult to source during the summer season and there are occasions where provision may be offered outside the county.'
The council said that in certain circumstances, the client may be provided with a guarantee of financial assistance for homeless provision in the short term to source their own accommodation, in their area of choice, where available.
'If a family advises the council of any issues with emergency provision in B&Bs or hotels (which have regulatory standards and are not a matter of enforcement for local authorities), the council will investigate immediately,' the statement said.
Wicklow County Council is currently progressing the opening of a Family Homeless Hub in Wicklow town which will provide temporary, transitional accommodation for up to seven families experiencing homelessness. Key support work will be provided to families to ensure they can transition from the homeless hub into alternative suitable accommodation.
'Prevention of homelessness is a key focus for Wicklow County Council and the Homeless Team provides advice and support to a homeless person or at risk of homelessness and engages with landlords and the rents unit with a view to achieving realistic rents and sustaining tenancies,' the council said. 'It is imperative that families at risk of homelessness contact the Homeless Team at the earliest opportunity.'
In addition, the council said that the Homeless HAP Placefinder provides assistance by: seeking out potential properties suitable for households currently identified as homeless or at risk of homelessness; liaising with specific households to establish their specific needs; establishing relationships with local property agents and landlords; and, supporting those homeless households to either prevent the necessity to enter emergency accommodation, or to exit emergency accommodation and secure a tenancy.
To date, 73 families and 24 individuals have been assisted under the Homeless HAP Scheme in Wicklow County Council from the inception of the scheme in October 2018, to June 2019.
This figure is made up of 63 homeless cases and 34 prevention cases of which 12 families/singles were residing in emergency accommodation and four families in women's refuge accommodation. The council sourced 40 properties.
The council said that with HAP payments for rent, they can only pay up to the limits determined in legislation, except for discretion to apply 20 per cent if there is a homeless situation.