Fianna Fáil Spokesperson for Environment and Local Government Barry Cowen TD says the lack of a coherent Government policy to deal with the homeless crisis means more families will this year spend Christmas on the streets and in emergency accommodation.
Deputy Cowen says the Minister for Environment Alan Kelly must implement a number of measures which would create significant housing supply in a short period of time to tackle the escalating crisis.
“It’s now a year since the tragic death of Jonathan Corrie while sleeping rough on the streets of Dublin. In response to this tragedy the Government promised to deal with the homeless crisis. However they have allowed it to escalate,” said Deputy Cowen.
“More people are likely to end up homeless this Christmas as opposed to last year. There are 800 families and over 1,500 children homeless. Up to 80 families are becoming homeless in Dublin each month. The Government’s failure to increase the Rent Supplement is forcing people out of their homes. .
“The Government has no coherent strategy to deal with this crisis. Minister Kelly is solely interested in putting in place short term measures in an attempt to get beyond the next General Election. However these measures are doing little to prevent people from losing their homes.
“Modular homes are being used as a ruse to avoid taking action on other measures which could significantly expand housing supply in a short period of time. It’s baffling to see the Minister spend €191,000 on a temporary modular home while at the same time refusing to spend €30,000 to refurbish a vacant unit controlled by local authorities.
“There are 3,000 vacant units under the control of local authorities across the country which could be refurbished relatively cheaply and used as a permanent home thereafter. NAMA also has the capacity and the land to deliver up to 20,000 new houses. However the Government is allowing NAMA to sell off these vital assets to private vulture funds.
“While we welcome the use of modular homes as a temporary solution to the housing emergency, I nonetheless fear that the Government will use them as an excuse for not investing in permanent homes. Communities across Ireland are in desperate need of radical investment in social housing to ensure everyone has a place to call home. This investment needs to happen now,” said Deputy Cowen.