THE crisis in emergency housing is beginning to percolate into the commuter belt, after a homeless family who presented to Kildare Co Council were offered emergency accommodation in Drogheda or Dundalk. They were told this was the nearest available.
“People are now being told there is a waiting list [in Kildare] for emergency housing,” said Cllr Chris Pender.
“A family who contacted me said they were told they needed a letter [of confirmation of status] and once they put it in, they were offered emergency accommodation in either Drogheda or Dundalk,’ said the new Newbridge public representative.
“That was on Friday, but by Monday it was gone, and they were told they’d have to stay with their family again,” he explained.
According to his Newbridge MD colleague Cllr Patricia Ryan, who is also working on the case, “there is no current emergency accommodation in Kildare today (13 August ) or yesterday”.
“The council says it’s because of the holiday season, and everywhere is all booked up,” she said.
“We have a housing list, but now we have an emergency housing list. That’s ridiculous,” said the Monasterevin councillor.
“What’s the point of presenting as homeless? They’re already staying with family. I mean, I was there, going from house to house, couch surfing. It feels horrendous,” said Cllr Pender.
“One of the families [who contacted me] is working, so if they took [emergency] accommodation in Dundalk they would have to give up the job,” he pointed out.
“It doesn’t make sense any more. It’s getting to the point of ridiculousness,” he added.
“People who work and lived here can’t get accommodation in Kildare,” said Cllr Pender.
He said emergency housing was the main issue he has been involved in since his election and that he has been dealing with at least six people a week. “And it’s getting worse,” he concluded.
He said he is awaiting a Freedom of Information (FOI) request from the Department of Housing as to how many Dublin families are housed in emergency accommodation in Kildare.
However, he did acknowledge that though Kildare Co Council doesn’t accommodate Dublin families in the county. “The Dublin authorities do because it’s in the commuter belt,” he added.
To be fair to the local authority, it has seen this coming, and together with the other immediate commuter counties of Meath and Wicklow put together a Mid-East Region Homelessness Action Plan last year to try and alleviate the difficulties of living next door to the monster.
Kildare Co Council currently has 59 families placed in emergency accommodation, and secured €1,25m (Section 10 funding) for emergency accommodation in 2018.
In relation to homeless presentations 1,226 were recorded by Kildare Co Council in 2018, with 557 presentations recorded to the end of June 2019, including repeat presentations.
“Where an individual or family has been assessed as eligible for emergency accommodation, placement will be made based on their need (eg. family make-up) and where accommodation is available. This may be outside of the county in some instances,” explained a spokesperson for the council.
“Anybody who is on the social housing list is eligible for the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) and the HAP Placefinder service is now available in the county for anybody who is homeless or threatened with imminent homelessness.
“In addition, Threshold provide an advisory service. Information and contact details are available on our website,” the spokesperson added.