By Sarah Mac Donald - 19 May, 2014
In an interview with RTE Radio 1 on Sunday, the homelessness campaigner said concerns that home repossessions could total 35,000 in the next few years could, if it became a reality, bring down the government.
Speaking to RTÉ’s Sunday with Miriam programme, Fr Peter McVerry said the “tsunami of homelessness” is the worst he has ever seen in his career of 40 years.
The Peter McVerry Trust, he said, was struggling to cope with demand and was having to turn people away.
“In all the years I have been working with homeless people, it has never been so bad,” the Jesuit said. “We are … beyond crisis at this stage.”
He blamed part of the problem on the disappearance of the traditional means of exiting homelessness through social housing and the private rental market.
“There is a dearth of social housing. In the cities and in Dublin in particular, the private rental sector is out of reach for homeless people because the rents are escalating; they are going through the roof,” he said.
Fr McVerry has appealed to the Government to make 1,500 houses and apartments available to ease the crisis, adding that it would be far more cost-effective than putting people into hotels, hostels and shelter.
“The demand for rented accommodation far exceeds supply, and not only can homeless people not get into rented accommodation but people already in rented accommodation are losing it.”
“So, the people in rented accommodation are losing their accommodation and becoming homeless”, he explained.