Focus Ireland Statement: May 24th 2017

(Responding to reports that 12 families who are homeless could only be offered accommodation in Garda Stations last night.

Focus Ireland said these shocking events are an unwelcome vindication of the warnings the charity has repeatedly made to the Government for the last two years that using commercial hotels as emergency accommodation for families who are homeless is totally unsuitable and unacceptable.

Frontline staff in the Focus Ireland family team are working with DCC (Dublin City Council) and DRHE (Dublin Region Homeless Executive) every day to support families who are homeless to secure emergency accommodation. The team also supports families who are in emergency accommodation and works to move them on to housing.

However, due to the critical shortage of suitable family emergency accommodation over 800 families are staying in hotels in Dublin. Up to 200 of these placements are night by night bookings so if a hotel is then booked up with commercial guests a family who is homeless has to find another place to stay.

Mike Allen Focus Ireland Director of Advocacy said: “This time 18 months ago when a number of families were at serious risk of sleeping rough we called on the Taoiseach for a Ministerial directive which would ensure no family assessed as homeless could be turned away without a bed for the night. It is just over a year ago that the Taoiseach invited us to meet with him on the issue and we gave the same warning. There was never action on this but the Taoiseach did imply on a number of occassions* it would not be let happen again.

(*RTE News Report August 14th 2015 “The Taoiseach said: “If a family becomes homeless in Dublin this evening as a result of being moved out of a B&B, or for whatever reason, the local authority involved… will have the resources to supply emergency accommodation for that family.”)

However, now we have see  last night that 12 families in Dublin had to be told to go to Garda stations as a place of safety as no hotel rooms could be found for them. It is totally unacceptable that the crisis has been allowed to get to the stage where families with children are once again at critical risk of sleeping rough on the streets of our capital as there are no hotel rooms available.”

Focus Ireland said the Taoiseach has failed to show the leadership required on this crisis in recent years and when put on the spot on the issue his stock answer was to say the homelessness crisis “is not a question of lack of resources or money.” Focus Ireland strongly believes the government has failed these families by allowing this crisis to deepen week on week , month on month and year on year.

Focus Ireland said the homeless crisis can be solved if it was made a true priority by the Government. The charity said it works in full partnership with the DRHE and DCC to move families out of homelessness into secure accommodation. However, with up to 70 more families becoming homeless every month the crisis continues to deepen as often less than one family a day is being moved out of homelessness at present. The charity said it is continuing to work with DRHE and DCC to support families while the new family homeless emergency accommodation is being put in place in Dublin.

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