Eoghan Murphy: Family homelessness stablised

Family homelessness appears to have stabilised in Dublin, the housing minister has said.

Eoghan Murphy: Believes efforts to deal with families becoming homeless are working. Picture: Gareth Chaney Collins

During August and September, the number of families exiting homelessness services was greater than those accessing them, Minister Eoghan Murphy said yesterday.

In October, the number of new families accessing homelessness services increased by one family and while it was one family too many, said Mr Murphy, 87 no longer needed them.

He was speaking at a seminar organised by Focus Ireland to launch two reports, Keeping a Home and Finding a Home.

The charity also announced it prevented 240 families from becoming homeless over the first ten months of this year.

Mr Murphy admitted the number of families becoming homeless was still far too high but it now looked as if efforts to deal with the problem in Dublin were working.

He indicated the Government and other agencies involved could face the homeless challenge in Dublin and actually get a grip on it, they could begin to arrest the rise in homelessness nationally as well.

Focus Ireland’s director of advocacy Mike Allen said there were about 80 families becoming homeless every month in Dublin this year.

Mr Allen said more than a third of families were becoming homeless because their landlord was selling up.

“So it is the single largest reason why families are becoming homeless,” he said.

Mr Allen said homelessness in Dublin appeared to be stabilising because families were being moved out of homelessness more quickly.

“We still feel the Government continues to underestimate the scale of the problem,” he said.

He believed the 20,000 homes that the minister said would be built next year would not be enough.

“Until we hit at least 25,000 to 30,000 new homes a year the problem will continue to escalate and I don’t think they [the Government] have fully grasped that.

“They are celebrating successes that we haven’t yet achieved and that causes me great anxiety in terms of their recognition of how serious the problem is.”

Mr Murphy also spoke about family hubs, saying they offered a pathway for families to stable, secure accommodation.

There are 10 family hubs in Dublin and one in Limerick that support 300 families experiencing homelessness.

Mr Murphy said four new hubs will be established in Dublin before the end of the year and they would support another 100 families. Two further hubs would open in Dublin in early 2018 for 55 families.

Two more hubs would open in Limerick before the end of the year for 34 families and another hub would open in Cork early in the New Year for 19 families. A hub for Galway was also being developed.

Mr Murphy said he would be announcing new guidelines later this month for the build-to-rent sector to encourage more apartment building.

The minister also said he was writing to local authorities to tell them what their targets were going to be for next year.

“We are going to have another housing summit in January where they [local authorities] are going to tell me how they are going to use their existing land banks to meet those targets.”

Risk factors

Reasons given by 34 families:

  • Notice to quit as property for sale – 14 families (40%).
  • Rent increases – 5 families.
  • Notice to quit as landlord wants the property for family – 2 families.
  • Anti-social behaviour – 1 family.
  • Personal insolvency – 1 family.
  • Rent arrears – 6 families.
  • Substandard accommodation – 3 families.
  • Landlord insists property unsuitable – 1 family.
  • Refugee status granted so had to move from centre – 1 family.

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