My Department’s role in relation to homelessness involves the provision of a national framework of policy, legislation and funding to underpin the role of housing authorities in addressing homelessness at local level. Statutory responsibility in relation to the provision of emergency accommodation and related services for homeless persons rests with individual housing authorities.
Rebuilding Ireland, the Government's Action Plan on Housing and Homelessness, includes the objective that hotels will only be used in limited circumstances as emergency accommodation for families. To meet this objective, housing authorities are pursuing the delivery of a range of additional and enhanced family-focused facilities, or family hubs, which offer greater stability than is possible in a hotel, until such time as a home can be secured.
There are currently 29 hubs operational nationally, offering approximately 680 units of family accommodation. Of these hubs 23 are in Dublin, with one each in Clare, Cork, Galway, Kildare, Limerick and Louth. It is expected that further facilities will become operational during the remainder of 2019 and into 2020, details of which will become available as projects are finalised by the housing authorities.
In general, the operation of family hubs is contracted out by local authorities, under service level agreements, to NGOs involved in the delivery of homeless services. Local authorities and NGO service providers work with families in family hubs to secure tenancies in the shortest timeframe possible. Data on the average length of stay in family hubs is not available in my Department.
My Department is providing capital funding to local authorities to support the development of family hubs. In 2017 and 2018 capital payments amounting to €8.74 million and €21.96m, respectively, were made in respect of family hubs. The funding to be provided in 2019 and 2020 will be dependent on the progress made by local authorities on the development of additional family hubs.
In relation to the operational funding for the family hubs, my Department provides funding to housing authorities on a regional basis towards the operational costs of homeless accommodation and related services. Under the funding arrangements, housing authorities must provide at least 10% of the cost of services from their own resources. Housing authorities may also incur additional expenditure on homeless related services outside of the funding arrangements with my Department. Therefore, the exact amounts spent by housing authorities on homeless services, as well as the types of accommodation and the service providers engaged, are a matter for those authorities. Financial reports from each of the regions, setting out expenditure on homeless services, including family hubs, in each region in 2018, are published on my Department's website at the following link: https://www.housing.gov.ie/search/sub-type/financial-report .