By Gordon Deegan
One Dublin hotel was last year paid between €4m to €5m to accommodate the spiralling numbers of homeless in the capital.
New figures released in response to a Freedom of Information request show that along with the hotel receiving between €4m to €5m another hotel received payments between €2m to €3m.
The figures released by the Dublin Regional Homeless Executive (DRHE) show that a further 11 hotels received between €1m to €2m with an additional 13 hotels receiving payments between €500,000 to €1m.
A further 124 hotels and B&Bs received payments up to €500,000 in 2017.
Last year, the overall amount paid out to hotels by Dublin City Council totalled €46.93m - a 20.5% jump on the €38.94m paid out in 2016.
In addition, the City Council paid €12.3m to hostels and B&Bs.
The figures also show that last year, in spite of a commitment by Tánaiste, Simon Coveney in his role as Minister for Housing, that the use of hotels for housing the homeless would finish by the end of July last, the number of hotels accommodating the homeless increased in 2017.
The figures show that last December, 70 hotels around the capital were being used to house the homeless and this was an increase of four on the 66 hotels housing the homeless in January of last year.
The numbers of homeless families living in emergency accommodation in Dublin increased from 1,028 at the end of 2016 to 1,121 at the end of last year that included the number of children going up from 2,096 to 2,385.
The latest figures for February show that the number of homeless families in emergency accommodation in the capital has increased to 1,329 that includes 2,801 children.
The figures also show that as part of the Government initiative to establish family hubs, the City Council spent €8.75m on the hubs in 2017.
The family hubs are group style homeless shelters for families and have been rolled out over the past 16 months as a measure to reduce the number of families staying for long periods in hotels.
In an RTÉ radio interview this week, the Minister for Housing, Eoghan Murphy said: “Hotels are not an appropriate place to be for families to be in emergency accommodation.”
He said that is why the Government has rolled out the family hub programme. He said: “We have far many more hub places coming to get families out of hotels. More than 2,000 families were taken out of hotels last year which is a huge amount of work done.”
He said that the majority of those families are gone into homes.
A detailed breakdown of the 'hub' spend shows that €1.5m was paid over in 2017 to Focus Onsite Support for the largest family hub at the Townhouse on Dublin’s Gardiner Street. In total, Focus Onsite Support received fees totalling €4.92m for the operation of five family hubs at Bram Stoker, Clontarf; Sunnybank; Viking Lodge D8, Abberly, Tallaght and the Townhouse.
In total, the Council last year spent €97.48m on emergency accommodation that includes a large percentage going to non-profit organisations such as the Peter McVerry Trust, Dublin Simon, Focus Ireland, Crosscare and the De Paul Trust.
The DRHE pending return for 2017 also show that the Council spent €819,072 on a helpline for the homeless over the year.
On the hotel spend, independent member of Dublin City Council, Mannix Flynn said: "The spend is outrageous, but it is not surprising. Hotels can charge a premium rate as there is a very large demand for hotel rooms in Dublin.
The notion of housing people in a hotel just beggars belief and can have catastrophic psychological impact on those families and the children concerned. These people have had their lives suspended living in these artificial situations that has a massive impact on them. Homelessness is on the landscape to stay.