Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Questions (50, 51, 57)

Anne Rabbitte

Question:

50. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the steps his Department is taking to support children in emergency accommodation; if he has satisfied himself with the efforts to tackle child and family homelessness; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8994/18]

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Gino Kenny

Question:

51. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to the fact that children and young persons living in emergency accommodation often face difficulties in accessing play or recreational facilities and the impact this has on their development; his plans to address the crisis of children living in emergency accommodation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9021/18]

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Gino Kenny

Question:

57. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his plans to address the issue of families in emergency accommodation that are limited in their food options due to inadequate storage facilities in addition to the lack of access to cooking facilities; if his attention has been drawn to the negative impact on families' daily food habits and dietary quality which can contribute to health problems for children; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9022/18]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 50, 51 and 57 together.

One of the key commitments contained in Rebuilding Ireland is to cease the use of hotels for accommodating homeless families except in limited circumstances. I am absolutely committed to this objective. Hotels are not a suitable or secure form of accommodation for families and especially for young children for anything other than a short period of time.

My Department and I are working with local authorities to accelerate the delivery of social housing for those who need it and while these more permanent housing solutions are being put in place, we are working with local authorities to deliver family hubs. These family hubs are a first response only but do provide more suitable, safe and supported family living arrangement.

Family hubs offer family living arrangements with a greater level of stability than is possible in hotel accommodation, with the capacity to provide appropriate play-space, cooking and laundry facilities, communal recreation space, while move-on options to long-term independent living are identified and secured. Furthermore, such arrangements will facilitate more coordinated needs assessment and support planning including on-site access to required services, such as welfare, health, housing services and appropriate family supports. In addition, the Dublin Region Homeless Executive provides ongoing training to all operators of emergency accommodation and nutrition is addressed as part of this training.

I fully recognise that families living in hotel accommodation face many challenges and that is why I want to significantly increase the accommodation available in family hubs. There are currently 20 hubs in operation (17 in Dublin, 2 in Limerick and 1 in Kildare) providing almost 500 units of family accommodation. However, I have asked local authorities to bring forward proposals for further facilities of this kind, located, as much as possible, close to the communities where families are experiencing homelessness. My Department will continue to fund and work proactively with local authorities in relation to the delivery of these hubs.