Belfast Telegraph

Charity attacks system of 'self-accommodation' for homeless families

Homeless families should not have to find their own emergency housing in Ireland, a leading support charity said.

More than 8,000 people are affected by the worst crisis in the history of the state, Focus Ireland added.

Tuesday's Budget announcement takes place on World Homelessness Day.

Focus Ireland director Mike Allen said: "The practice of expecting families in crisis to find their own emergency accommodation causes untold stress and misery for hundreds of families and their children.

"Budget 2018 can provide local authorities with the funds to end this miserable, inhuman practice."

Many families recognised as homeless by local authorities are told they must find their own emergency accommodation, which is then paid for by the local authority.

The charity said the system, known as self-accommodation and affecting 250 Dublin families, is not fit for purpose and puts huge stress on families.

Families with children were occasionally put at risk of sleeping rough as they could not find emergency accommodation, it claimed.

More than 3,000 children were homeless, the organisation added.

Focus Ireland argues it is the local authorities' responsibility to find housing for them and central government must provide them with the resources to do so.

The charity has said Budget 2018 should ring-fence funding to tackle it.

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy has moved to meet increased housing need by increasing height restrictions for apartment blocks in city centres and along key transport routes.

He is also asking officials to report back on the possibility of changing planning rules to cut out mandatory car parking in complexes.

Another measure being floated to combat the worst housing and homelessness crisis in the state's history is new shared student-style accommodation where young professionals would live in high-rise buildings with access to shared kitchens, utility rooms, gyms or recreation areas.

Mr Murphy said at least 5,000 new homes should be developed over the next couple of years under new build-to-rent models.

He also called for more studio and one and two bedroom apartments, not just for renters; family apartments to encourage more people to stay in cities; specialist housing for older people, others trading down and the less able-bodied.

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