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  • Southside

Mayor warns of 'perfect storm' of homelessness

Monday, 13th August, 2018 8:00am
Mayor warns of 'perfect storm' of homelessness
Mayor warns of 'perfect storm' of homelessness

THE Mayor of South Dublin County Council, Cllr Mark Ward (SF), has warned that a combination of factors could lead to a “perfect storm” in homelessness over the next few weeks.

Following last week’s national outcry over the predicament of the Cash family, who found themselves sleeping on chairs in Tallaght Garda Station after they failed to secure accommodation for the night, Cllr Ward said the situation could only get worse.

“There could be an escalation in the number of homeless families not being able to find accommodation in Dublin over the next month,” Cllr Ward said. “I can put this down to a number of factors, including the lack of available hotel rooms due to events like the Pope’s visit and the two All-Ireland finals.

“Throw in the lack of social and private accommodation, homeless hubs that are at full capacity, increasing numbers of families presenting as homeless and high demands on hotel accommodation and you could have a perfect storm in homelessness in the next few weeks.”

According to Cllr Ward, the homelessness crisis is escalating on a daily basis.

 “In South Dublin there were 294 families registered as homeless in June. That’s almost a 10 per cent increase on March figures. Over 100 of these families are in homeless hubs which are at full capacity.

“I have had families in my office with young children and all their personal belongings with them and no means of transport.

“The whole day for this family is spent on the phone ringing hotel after hotel trying to source accommodation. I’ve witnessed the stress that this puts parents under and in turn the trauma the children are going through.” 

“Often parents do not have a phone or credit to call these hotels. I’ve allowed parents the use of my phone to call hotels and seen the desperation increase every time they are told there is no room in the inn.

“I’ve seen the look of hope in their children’s eyes disappearing with every call.

“I have had a number of families onto me this week who have been recently been made homeless. They presented to South Dublin County Council and were given a list of hotels to contact. But they were unable to find accommodation due to lack of rooms.”

Cllr Ward added: “If you look at the events planned in Dublin in the coming weeks and the demand on hotels rooms it is hard to see this problem not getting worse.

“This Government needs to stop shuffling around numbers and immediately increase investment in social housing and resources to tackle this crisis.”

 Last week, the Society of St Vincent de Paul (SVP) called on the Government to declare a national emergency as an unprecedented number of families seek emergency accommodation.

The charity also raised the issue of the upcoming Papal visit that they said would “bring to the fore the depth of the crisis”.

 Kieran Stafford, SVP National President, said: “It is utterly unacceptable that any child should have to spend a night sleeping in a car or a Garda station. 

“Childhood is short, and at this time of year, children should be enjoying their summer holidays with friends and family. No child should have to worry about where they are going to sleep at night.

 “We first heard reports of children sleeping in Garda Stations in May 2017 and nothing has changed 14 months later. It is clear that the current policy has failed.”

Mr Stafford added: "The Government must ramp up the delivery of social housing and end the long-term use of emergency accommodation for children and families.”

 In their Pre-Budget Submission, the society called on Government to increase the vacant site and vacant property levies to address issues of speculation and hoarding.

“Unhelpful narratives that seek to blame people for their circumstances can’t be used to distract from the root cause of the crisis – an overreliance on the private sector to meet housing need,” Mr Stafford added.

A spokesperson for South Dublin County Council said that families were assessed case by case at the homeless clinic.

“If homeless priority is granted families would either be accommodated in a homeless hub, where availability exists, or granted self-accommodate.

“Self-accommodate allows applicants to self-source hotel accommodation on a short-term basis. If a family cannot source hotel accommodation a freephone number is supplied and they can access accommodation through the family intake team on a night by night basis.

“All efforts are made to ensure families have accommodation on a temporary basis until more permanent arrangements can be put in place.”

He added: “It is not our policy to refer homeless families to Garda stations, therefore we do not keep figures on the numbers presenting to same.”

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