CORK City Council’s budget spend for 2020 on homeless services is likely to increase by almost 60% to €13.5 million, The Echo has learned.
The figure was revealed at internal meetings at City Hall in recent days, with the local authority set to overrun its allocated homeless service spend for 2019 by at least €1.5 million, having initially ringfenced €8.5 million.
The money is being spent on emergency B&Bs and hotels for homeless people - booked through a council issued credit card - and supports to homeless charities who are providing beds.
Most of the money is recouped from central Government funding.
The city council’s latest available homelessness figures show 459 unique individuals presenting for emergency accommodation, with 196 of these without a permanent home for six months.
73 families were living in hotels or B&Bs in the city in August.
Sinn Féin will hold a protest on the housing crisis outside City Hall on Monday while councillors and executives attend their monthly meeting.
The demonstration will start at 5pm and comes ahead of the council’s annual budget meeting on Thursday where spending on homeless services will be signed off.
Councillor Thomas Gould said too much money is being spent on services and more should be spent on building homes for families.
“This is a huge increase in the homeless budget and shows the extent of the homeless crisis in Cork and how bad it is predicted to get in 2020.
“At the protest, there will be families that have been directly affected by homelessness or affected by being on the housing waiting list.
“The increase in the homelessness budget shows the scale of the problem in Cork where there is a 60% increase in the money being pumped into services and emergency accommodation.
“It’s off the charts, the figures are unbelievable. For the population that we have here in Cork, we have a huge issue. It’s no longer a homelessness crisis, it’s an emergency.
“The council is getting 90% of this money from the Government. However, between 2019 and 2020 we are going to spend probably €24 million on providing homeless accommodation. Add that up over the next 10 years and think of all the houses we could build with all that money.
“The Government is more concerned with giving money to private landlords and businesses than building houses. Instead of solving the problem, they are throwing money at the problem,” Mr Gould added.
The Echo contacted Cork City Council for comment but the local authority said it was unable to provide a response before going to print.