Families living in hotels and other emergency accommodation may be “dodging the system” by declaring themselves “homeless” to jump up the housing waiting list, according to the outgoing head of the Government’s Housing Agency, Conor Skehan.
The Government may have “unwittingly” encouraged people to exploit the housing allocations system by prioritising “self-declared homelessness” in the allocation of social housing, Mr Skehan said.
In January 2015, following the death of Jonathan Corrie who had been sleeping rough near Leinster House, the then minister for housing, Alan Kelly, ordered that 50% of all social housing available in Dublin city and county was to be allocated to homeless people.
Prior to this, 10% of social housing was allocated to homeless individuals or families in Dublin city and 4-6% in the rest of Dublin.
At the end of December 2014, 331 families were living in emergency accommodation, mostly in hotels and B&Bs. By the following December, there were 683 homeless families. That number has now reached 1,530.
In July 2016, the 50% allocation order was dropped, amid concerns that general housing waiting list applicants were being disadvantaged. However, Dublin City Council continues to prioritise homeless applicants. Up to October of this year, 43% of new tenancies in the city went to homeless people.