By Ann Marie Foley - 06 September, 2018
“Homelessness is caused by flawed policies not flawed people,” Mike Allen, Focus Ireland, has stated in his latest blog. It comes from the range of choices society makes, he said, “choices such as whether or not resources are put into building social housing, or how we balance the rights of tenants against the rights of landlords. At an individual level it is often about how our vote is influenced by tax promises.”
However, he added that the housing and homeless crisis is not the result of the personality, education or “rolled-up shirt-sleeves of the Minister for Housing”.
He suggested that over the last year the housing and homeless crisis has been blamed on the snow, storms, sun, the Pope, and now in the last week as the figures came closer to 10,000 people homeless, the Minister has been blamed. There have been six Ministers for Housing from three political parties over the last seven years, so changing the Minister is not the solution, he stated.
The government’s mistake is that it seriously misjudged the scale of the crisis and underestimated what needed to be done, he suggested, adding that government policy is delivering what it said it would, but that this is falling far short of what is needed.
“Let’s be clear, no policy can be said to be working while things are getting worse. But we need to be more ambitious than that. We need the Minister to set a trajectory that can eliminate homelessness and a realistic timescale to achieve that,” stated Mike Allen.
Just one week ago (29 August 2018), new figures on homelessness showed that there were 9,891 people living in hotels, bed and breakfasts and family hubs in July, up from 9,872 people in June. The figures consisted of 6,024 adults and 3,867 children (in 1,778 families). The number of adults was down 24 from the previous month, but 43 more children were homeless in July than in June.
Focus Ireland figures for Dublin also issued last week showed that almost four families (3.9 families) became homeless every single day during July – that comes to 122 families with 270 children who became newly homeless in Dublin. Focus Ireland stated that this is the second highest monthly total for the number of families becoming newly homeless in Dublin since records began almost six years ago. These latest figures bring to the number of families that became newly homeless in Dublin in the first 7 months of this year to 679 families.
Focus Ireland was particularly concerned that more and more Irish homes are being purchased by vulture funds. The charity and other commentators warned that as vulture funds evict more people, there will be a rise in homelessness. The charity stated that Central Bank of Ireland figures show that that there were 13,362 buy-to-let mortgages more than 720 days in arrears – each of these mortgages represents a home for men, women and children across Ireland.