By Cian Molloy - 31 March, 2018
Ireland’s record homelessness figures are shocking and unacceptable and should be a cause of outrage and shame, says the Society of St Vincent de Paul (SVP).
The figures should act as a rallying call for urgent action and for the State to declare a housing emergency, says the Society, which is taking part in the ‘Housing is a Human Right’ event at the Gardens of Remembrance next Saturday (6th April).
According to the latest Department of Housing statistics, there were 9,104 people homeless in January this year – a record amount, representing a 6% increase on the figure in December 2017. Heartbreakingly, 3,267 of those homeless people are children.”An urgent reassessment of the Government’s housing policy is needed,” said SVP Social Policy Development Officer, Jennifer Thompson. “The key response to this crisis is to provide much greater protection to keep people in their homes, as well as addressing land hoarding and prioritising the building of social and affordable housing. We also need the Government to quickly publish its strategy for dealing with vacant properties. We urgently need more social and affordable homes and must stop the continued over reliance on the private sector to meet social housing need.
It is also essential to stem the flow of those becoming homeless and enhance the protection for tenants. SVP members are increasing seeing a huge number of families receiving notices to quit and stressed by the fear of homelessness”.
The protest next Saturday, starting at 1pm, is being organised by the National Homeless and Housing Coalition. The SVP will be attending the event, which aims to demand action to end the housing and homelessness crisis, as a member of the Irish Coalition to End Youth Homelessness (ICEYH).
SVP National President Kieran Stafford said, “SVP members are seeing on a weekly basis the reality and hearing the stories of the individuals and families behind these statistics and trends. The figures released today are a further stark reminder of the dangers of relying on the dysfunctional housing market to address our housing and homelessness crisis. Families living in emergency accommodation consistently face the uncertainty over their future and when they will find a home, they endure the daily worry of how they are going to feed their children, concern over the disruption to schooling, and the stress placed on families forced to all share the same room.”
The venue chosen for the protest features an Oisín Kelly sculpture of the Children of Lir, who in mythology endured homelessness for 900 years after they were transformed into swans. It is a doubly poignant venue, as the gardens commemorate those who gave their lives to secure Irish freedom, not just in Easter week but during the centuries of struggle for Irish self-determination.