Only 8% of the families in family hubs were able to get social housing last year,  according to homeless charity Respond.

The  charity, which published its annual report, has also announced plans to build 2,500 units of social housing over the next five years.

It has built 5,899 homes to date across Ireland with 1,000 in Dublin.

It also runs five family hubs helping a total of 110 families last year.

Of these only nine got social housing from local authorities or approved housing bodies.

Thirty-six families moved into private rental accommodation under the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) scheme, but 16 returned to their original families and a further 16 had to move into other emergency accommodation.

There were a total of 163 children with 58% of these aged under six and the average stay for a family was six months.

Respond spokesperson Niamh Randall said the absence of housing options remains the biggest barrier to families leaving homelessness and they also need to be helped back to independent living.

"This means working with people around physical health issues, mental health issues, around the trauma of becoming homeless and providing support to access housing.

"We also provide supports to children who are in our services to help them to cope with this stressful situation as effectively as possible," she said.


 

Ms Randall said among the issues dealt with were mental health and emotional support; child and youth support and parenting skills; education, training and employment; medical, drugs and alcohol issues; budgeting, legal issues and language skills.

Speaking on RTÉ News at One, Ms Randall said it is "not necessarily a positive move" if people who are homeless return to their family home for a time.

She said this is not an adequate solution for a long period of time.

Homeless toddlers 'unable to walk, crawl, chew' due to cramped conditions

Social Justice Ireland said the Government's lack of success in addressing the housing crisis is leaving toddlers in homeless accommodation unable to walk, crawl or chew because of the cramped conditions they are living in.

The organisation claimed that homelessness is becoming normalised in our society.

SJI Research and Policy Analyst Colette Bennett said the issue has been flagged several times by homeless organisations as being "a real risk".

Speaking on RTÉ's Today with Sean O'Rourke, she said hotels and B&Bs do not have cooking facilities, meaning parents are reliant on pouches of pureed food for young children "long after the point where most children would be weaned".

She said eating is something that must be learned, and not being able to do so properly has an impact on muscle development.

"Eating and feeding is a learned skill, like walking and riding a bike. You gradually develop muscles in your tongue, jaw, throat and oesophagus. If you are not developing those muscles, you have difficulties feeding, which affects nutrition and possibly speech patterns", she said.

Ms Bennett said there are a number of reports that support this, including a Children's Hospital Ireland report in January that referenced the fact that some homeless children were demonstrating "significant developmental delays", particularly around the 18-month mark.

She said a report from the Office of the Children's Ombudsman also mentioned cramped living conditions in family hubs.

"Entire families live in one room. That family has to exist as a unit within that environment, [with babies] attempting to play and crawl. They need space but if you're in very cramped conditions, you've got very little space to do any of those things".

Ms Bennett said that according to the Government's own figures in its quarterly homeless report, 44% of all homeless people in Dublin accessed emergency accommodation for more than a year.

She said 45% of families spent more than a year in emergency accommodation, while 15% were there for two years or more.

"So to say that it's transient or that they're only in it for a very short period of time isn't necessarily the case".