Cllr Sean Power addressed the meeting
A public meeting has been told by a Kildare county councillor that he was aware of a case in which a woman felt obliged to provide sexual services to avoid homelessness.
Cllr Sean Power was speaking during questions raised over the Council’s long term plans for new family hubs, aimed at keeping people from homelessness.
Cllr Powder, a former junior Minister, said that he became aware of a case in which a woman was “providing sexual services” to a man, who had initially offered her a room.
Cllr Power told Monday’s (July 31) meeting of Kildare County Council that she had felt obliged to do this “to keep a roof over her head”.
He was speaking after Cllr Reada Cronin had asked the executive to say how it would ensure that future family hubs do not become a permanent response to homelessness.
Director of Services in Housing, Tadhg McDonnell, said the recently opened family hub in Athy was one of five pillars in an action plan to address homelessness, including providing early solutions to address the numbers of families in emergency accommodation and to deliver inter-agency supports for people who are homeless.
But he also said that there was a concern about the quality of life at the Athy hub being so good that people might not want to leave.
Mr McDonnell said:“In recent years the instances of homelessness in County Kildare have increased. It is acknowledged that the long-term solution to the current homelessness issue is to increase supply of homes, however, in the interim there is a need for appropriate emergency/transition accommodation, particularly for families.
Family hubs are a new model of accommodation for families experiencing homelessness, designed as a better alternative to commercial hotels and B&Bs.
Mr McDonnell said that, as with the family hub recently opened at The Priory in Athy, operated by Peter McVerry Trust on behalf of Kildare County Council, “wrap-around services” are provided to help families be in a better position to move into their own homes.
Mr McDonnell said: “Further proposals for possible emergency/transition accommodation are being considered by the council with a view to reducing and, ultimately ending, the use of hotels to accommodate people in need of emergency accommodation. This may include family hub accommodation. As with The Priory, it is a consideration when choosing a location that there is a suitable use for the property into the future.”
Concerns were raised at the meeting by Cllr Cronin about the timing of the stay in the hubs but Cllr Ivan Keatley said the Government could not “turn on a tap” just like that and provide houses.
He said the hub had been provided in a very short time to house and protect people at a vulnerable time in their lives.
Cllr Paddy Kennedy, supportive of the hubs, said “a commitment was given by everyone to move people on in six months”.
Cllr Brendan Young questioned the six month promise, stating that the programme announced by Minister Murphy was an admission that the Rebuilding Ireland programme was a complete failure. “What will you be moving people onto?” he asked. He knew one family of six living in a hotel bedroom. “How many hubs would there be?”
Cllr Young said that in the 1950s, during a period of high emigration, the State built houses directly. He said now a lot of builders who have emigrated want to return to Ireland, but there is no building because the State is unwilling to spend money.
Cllr Young also said a lot of house prices being quoted in the Celbridge area were unaffordable for many.
Mr McDonnell said there was no comparison between the hub and direct provision.