Dublin homeless families face street as hotels to close over Christmas

The Dublin Region Homeless Executive is already trying to put contingency plans in place to find rooms for families living in hotels that are due to close over the Christmas period or have been booked out in advance.

Dublin homeless families face street as hotels to close over Christmas

It comes as a leading homeless campaigner has warned “dozens and dozens” of families will be left to sleep on the streets this Christmas.

Data published by the Executive show that during the week of October 18 to 25, there were 1,425 children in 677 families living in emergency accommodation.

Fr Peter McVerry, who has worked with the homeless for more than 30 years, said: “Many of those families who are in hotels are being told they have to leave for Christmas because the hotels are pre-booked.

“I can see dozens and dozens of families over Christmas sleeping in parks, sleeping on the street, staying overnight in Garda stations, going to hospital A&Es to spend the night.

“I can see that this could be a huge crisis for the Government.”

Many hotels close between December 23 and 27.

“Some will close, but others are pre-booked by people coming back into the country to spend Christmas with their families.”

Lisa Kelleher of the Dublin Region Homeless Executive said finding hotel accommodation for families turning up at their service is a daily challenge.

“The local authorities are consistently working under strain to place families into emergency accommodation, due to the significant numbers of families presenting to homeless services in the Dublin region,” she said.

“This remains a daily challenge for the local authorities as placement into commercial hotels is not a suitable form of provision for families, nor is it sustainable in terms of securing stable accommodation.

“The CPS [Central Placement Service] are working to ensure that alternative placements can be provided to families in need.”

Roughan MacNamara of Focus Ireland said recent measures announced to tackle the rent and housing crisis will “not stem the constant flow of 70 to 80 families a month losing their homes and becoming homeless in Dublin alone”.

This problem is also rising in other cities.

Parents and children who have been made homeless and are being accommodated in hotels already are in a situation where they often have to move out for a period of time if rooms have been pre-booked.

Fr McVerry said: “If you have a hotel bedroom, at least you are out of the cold, but there is a football match coming up at the weekend or there is a rock concert and you are told that you have to leave because the room has been pre-booked, so you have to go find somewhere else for the weekend.

“One family who was placed in hotel accommodation in June by October had moved 20 times,” he said.

The situation has become so bad that families are asked to find a hotel themselves. “Can you imagine the trauma of already losing accommodation, you turn up with all your possessions, maybe two or three kids, and you are told to go around Dublin looking for a bedroom,” Fr McVerry said.

“To me that is a problem out of control.”

Environment Minister Alan Kelly and Minister Paudie Coffey, who has responsibility for housing, will today hold a Homeless Summit to discuss the challenges of homelessness and winter preparations. The summit will be attended by the various charities and church representatives.

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