Supporting families experiencing homelessness is a key Government priority. In addition to an ambitious social housing programme being rolled out under Rebuilding Ireland, the Government's Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness, which is designed to meet housing needs on a long-term basis, a network of family hubs is also being put in place to provide a better response than is possible through hotels, for addressing the immediate needs of families experiencing homelessness and requiring emergency accommodation. As well as providing enhanced facilities, including in relation to cooking and laundry, families in hubs also receive better supports, including support to identify and secure an independent tenancy.
On 18 April 2019, the Office of the Children’s Ombudsman published ‘No Place Like Home’, a report into the experiences of children and parents of young children accommodated in family hubs. While the report notes a number of advantages of hubs over alternative forms of emergency accommodation, it also noted a numbers of areas of concern.
My Department is undertaking a detailed examination of the recommendations of the report, in consultation with the NGO service providers and the relevant local authorities. In that context, I have written to each of the NGOs involved in the provision of services in family hubs, asking for their observations on the report, and I have also met with the Ombudsman for Children to discuss the report. The issue of responses to the report that may be appropriate is being considered as part of that process.