The figures released yesterday by Focus Ireland on the number of homeless families living in temporary bed and breakfast accommodation are a shocking indictment of the type of society in which we live. In the Dublin area alone, it is now clear that 1,200 children and their families live in temporary bed and breakfast accommodation. In the space of ten years, the numbers of families in this type of accommodation has increased by an incredible 570%.
Under this Administration homelessness has reached a new peak and adopted a new and horrifying face. Yesterday's report vindicates what I have been saying for some time, that the largest growth in homeless figures is among children and their families. This aspect of our booming economy is very disconcerting and is something which the Government has failed abysmally to tackle.
This Administration wants to be judged on its record on the economy. Each member of the Government has learned by heart a mantra of facts and figures which he or she whips out when challenged over the management of the economy. However, facts such as those brought to light by Focus Ireland are hardly ever discussed and, where possible, are ignored. The people will judge the Government on its treatment of the weakest in society.
The 1,200 children and their parents who are roaming the streets of Dublin are not there by choice. They are there because of the Government's abysmal failure to manage the housing crisis. The fact that each morning over 1,000 children and their parents in the greater Dublin area are forced on to the streets at around nine o'clock after spending the night in a bed and breakfast is a crime. With no permanent accommodation, these families are forced to spend the days roaming the streets and public parks until nightfall when they can return to their temporary accommodation. The consequences of this type of lifestyle is very detrimental to young children. They are denied access to proper nutrition, an indoor play area, heating and the security of having a place they can call home.
Yesterday's Focus Ireland report served not just to vindicate what most of us know about the new face of homelessness but highlights the fact that hostel provision in this city is highly inadequate. Hostels cannot deal with the current demands and by 6 p.m. each day they are forced to turn people away to sleep on the streets. Bed and breakfast accommodation is now full with people who have been homeless for a prolonged period and people who have become homeless for the first time find it almost impossible to find accommodation in bed and breakfasts. It is clear that the inadequate supply of local authority housing and the unregulated nature of the private rented sector is pushing people on to the streets who in the past and during the worst economic dips would never have been at risk of becoming homeless.
Earlier this year when the Government published its strategy on homelessness I welcomed it to the extent that it pointed in the right direction. However, the report still remains largely on paper. At the time of its launch, the Minister of State, Deputy Molloy, said that money would not be an object in implementing the recommendations. However, there appears to be some lack of will in implementing the recommendations. As the economy continues to boom and the number of disenfranchised children and their parents on the streets continues to grow, the Government needs to give a new seriousness and urgency to providing accommodation to those children who, in these bad winter days and nights, find themselves homeless in this city.