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Homelessness is a national emergency: Sr Stan

By Ann Marie Foley - 22 September, 2015

“We must not shy away from highlighting that homelessness has now deepened from a crisis situation to a national emergency.”

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Almost 1,500 children from 707 families are homeless – a rise of more than 70% since the start of the year.

According to new figures from the Department of the Environment (DOE) more than half of these families are living in hotel accommodation in Dublin.

The DOE figures came to light ahead of the Sub-Cabinet Committee on Social Policy which met yesterday (Monday 21 September).

Yesterday, homeless people and Anti Austerity Alliance (AAA) members occupied Nama-funded houses under construction in Castleknock, Dublin, claiming that 156 houses were being built to be sold at a profit but should be used for Social Housing for some of the 117 local families in emergency accommodation.

Nama responded claiming it had delivered 1,518 social houses across 150 projects. 628 were in Dublin, 226 in Cork and 154 in Galway.

Last week Focus Ireland launched its 2014 Annual Report in Dublin, and called on the Government to provide a minimum average of 7,000 new social housing units a year over the 5 year term of the next government.

Sr sstan untitledFocus Ireland Life President, Sr Stanislaus Kennedy, who founded the charity 30 years ago this month said, “We must not shy away from highlighting that homelessness has now deepened from a crisis situation to a national emergency.”

“The Government must now accept that some of its policy decisions are directly forcing people into homelessness. In 2012, we warned in our Pre-Budget Submission that many families were at a tipping point between home and homelessness as rent supplement payments were not matching rising rents.”

She recalled that last year Focus Ireland helped 360 households to secure a home – or prevented them from losing one and that is really positive.

However, in September 2012 a total of 8 families a month were becoming homeless in Dublin that compares with 70 a month now in Dublin alone and the problem is also getting worse around the country.

“The fact is that the Government could, with the stroke of a pen, take action to prevent many families becoming homeless this very month by increasing the rent supplement.”

“What is often forgotten is that these families do not just appear out of thin air into homelessness. They are all in homes now as I speak but yet without action at least 70 more families will lose their homes this month and be homeless,” she added.

Focus Ireland is also calling on the Government to urgently deliver on its promise of rent certainty and to also bring in tax changes for residential landlords to help increase the number of rental properties on the market.

The charity is seeking more long-term actions such as providing a minimum average of 7,000 new social housing units a year over the 5 year term of the next government; and to see ‘bricks and mortar’ delivered in the implementation of the Social Housing Strategy 2020 with an ‘upfront exchequer commitment’ of €1.5 billion.

It also cautioned that modular housing must be implemented carefully, with regard to the location of potential sites, but also quickly with no delay by planning regulations.

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