€116k B&B cost for homeless
THERE was an increase in homelessness cases in County Wexford from 350 in 2014 to 538 cases in 2015, with €116,000 spent on accommodating people in B&Bs last year.
County Wexford Manager Tom Enright said the local authority has secured extra funding of almost €200,000 this year in response to the growing need for beds for people in difficulty.
'As part of the response to homelessness Wexford County Council has a service level agreement in place with Focus Ireland which will see two support workers based at Wexford County Council headquarters to support tenancy sustainment for those at risk of homelessness and a housing led model which aims to progress homeless cases to accommodation units.'
He said the housing team put in place emergency cover over the Christmas period. As a result he said there are no 'street sleepers' in the county as emergency accommodation has been sourced.
'The average stay of a homeless person in emergency accommodation like B&Bs is approximately 26 days.'
Cllr Deirdre Wadding said additional funding is needed. She said the county's refuge needs double its current space to accommodate people.
'People are sleeping on couches and with family members. We are pushing further and further into the rented housing market.'
Cllr Malcolm Byrne said up to 13,988 bed nights were paid for by the local authority last year. He said this points to a failure of the local authority's housing policy. Planning officer Liz Hore said €116,881 was spent on emergency B&B accommodation in 2015. 'The total budget for homeless services was €341,973 and this includes our funding to Ozanam House (men's hostel). Wexford County Council also has designated housing units within its social housing stock in the four main towns to support families in transition while they secure more stable accommodation. Although homelessness an increasing challenge in Wexford the average stay in B&B is 26 days maximum. Wexford County Council provides accommodation for all homeless clients except where the client has been deemed a risk to the safety of the accommodation provider.'