Temporary hubs for homeless families ‘are not long-term solution’

Temporary hubs for homeless families are not long-term solutions, the Government has agreed, as figures revealed the growing numbers now living in emergency accommodation.

The number of homeless children has risen by some 300% over the last six years, since Fine Gael entered Government, the Dáil heard.

Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald was warned that families living in special hubs were facing long-term institutionalisation.

Inspections of accommodation were also urged.

The Government has said it will review its current building programme as levels of home-building are still low. During Leaders’ Questions, Sinn Féin’s Eoin Ó Broin highlighted concerns about 3,000 children now living in emergency accommodation.

“Child homelessness, as I have said many times before on the floor of this house, has increased by a shocking 300% in the six years that Fine Gael has been in Government,” he said.

He added that the level of time families were being left in emergency units was shocking. “Some 70% of homeless families have been in emergency accommodation for more than six months, with 40% in hostels and hotels for more than a year, and there are currently at least 200 families in emergency accommodation for between 18 and 24 months.”

Reports from the Human Rights and Equality Commission and Maynooth University this week highlighted problems with emergency accommodation for families.

They warned of the dangers of long-term institutionalisation and called for independent inspections of accommodation, particularly those housing children, as well as a three-month legal limit to the length of time a family would stay in such units.

Campaigners also recommended clear rehousing targets to give families homes, and a sunset clause where all special hubs would be closed by 2019.

Ms Fitzgerald agreed that special hubs were not the way to house families. The Government would examine the two reports, she said, but the ultimate solution was to build more homes.

Elsewhere, Labour leader Brendan Howlin said an audit of the Catholic Institute for Deaf People, highlighted in the Irish Examiner, identified pay levels in excess of HSE levels, multiple credit cards in use, and high levels of expenditure on meals, bottles of whiskey, and jewellery.

He asked what the Government response was and whether it was time for all publicly-funded bodies to be subject to State controls.

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