Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Housing, Darragh O’Brien TD has said that the State is encouraging people and families into hidden homelessness by failing to provide pathways towards long term housing solutions.

The Deputy was commenting following this morning’s briefing held by leading NGO’s; Barnardos, Focus Ireland, the Simon Community and St Vincent de Paul.

He said, “Homelessness is sadly no longer just about those sleeping rough on our streets or the thousands of people living in temporary accommodation but also about the sizeable number hidden from our view and exempt from housing supports.

“Those who have found themselves to be without a place to call home, hidden from official statistics and not receiving support, can find themselves in precarious situations including couch surfing.

“It’s somewhat difficult to quantify hidden homelessness but we do know that the severe shortage of social and affordable housing is forcing countless children and families into overcrowded, unsuitable and insecure accommodation across the country.

“When those forced into homelessness present themselves to a Local Authority the default position is to suggest that they stay with friends, family or another support network but this is not a reasonable solution.

“It does not address the matter as to why the 20,000 or so people waiting on public housing are in hidden homelessness to survive. Neither does it determine why the Government’s targets on housing development aren’t being met despite not even being high enough to begin with.

”It’s pretty telling that there wasn’t one single representative of Government in attendance this morning to hear the hard facts that were presented by the representative of each organisation.

“It’s no surprise then either that it is a sheer lack of political will that’s preventing both the establishment of our proposed Affordable Housing Scheme to utilise State owned lands for the development of housing, and achieving any progress on the Affordable Rent Scheme that was announced in 2015.

“Our Local Authorities have an obligation and responsibility to harness the potential of State owned vacant land. We cannot accept the unwillingness to develop these sites.

He concluded, “There is no doubt in my mind that this Government can prevent the situation becoming any more acute by having the will to help and support people before they reach homelessness and become just another figure on the growing lists.”