I’d like to draw your attention to the commitment made by the Government over two years ago, in February 2013, “Government commits to ending homelessness by 2016; Journal.ie” yet two years later the situation is only getting worse. This Summer has been the busiest ever period for Focus Ireland and other housing organisations dealing with families at risk of homelessness.
– With 1185 children in Dublin alone Homeless per night, first and foremost the Government needs to declare this a national crisis.
– There needs to be more of a link in with NAMA and one must ask; Why doesn’t Nama simply hand over the land to local authorities or approved housing bodies (AHBs) for the development of social housing or allow the existing houses and apartments under its control to be used for such purposes? NAMA has an estimated 15000 housing units at their disposal!
– Rent Management must be considered as it is in so many other European countries. The vast majority of landlords are fair but some are using the market spike as a means of raising rents and thus evicting families so they can move in someone at an inflated rental price.
– There also needs to be a system of pre approved rent allowance from the Department of Social Protection so as that recipients of rent allowance have a fighting chance of securing somewhere.
– The Government must also tackle the serious issue of mortgage arrears as many families who are home buyers are being forced into the social housing sector as they cannot afford mortgages creating further despair and uncertainty for those families and also adding to the strain on local authorities.
Every day I speak to families in Emergency Accommodation at their wits end, imagine for a minute being a mother or father trying to raise a child in a single hotel room for the whole family, no facilities to cook and relying completely on cheap fast food, no facilities for children to play, limited washing capabilities, very difficult circumstances for children to do homework, and being stigmatised in school? Also being forced to re-locate whenever the hotel is busy such as the summer months… It is a crime that over 1000 children in Dublin alone are living in this nightmare, the early years of a child is their formation years and this crisis is having a huge effect on children’s development and, as you can imagine, the mental health of parents living this nightmare for up to a year or more.
If this Government is too inept to get the job done then they should speed up the time it is taking them to consider my Housing (Homeless Prevention) Bill 2014 which I worked on extensively with Focus Ireland and WILL provide a safety net for families if put into law. I would welcome any cabinet decision maker to listen to the stories of despair I hear every day from constituents at their wits end and promise them the rhetoric that they have been promising us for so long.