Govt urged to wake up to homelessness ‘emergency’

70 new families need charities’ help every month

Ireland is facing a national emergency and the Government must act urgently to stop the flow of people becoming homeless, according to leading campaigners.

Focus Ireland’s Sr Stanislaus Kennedy told The Irish Catholic that “in 2012, Focus Ireland informed the Government that families were at a tipping point with eight families becoming homeless every month, and in 2013 that number had risen to 20 every month.

“Last year,” she continued, “40 families a month were becoming homeless, and now 70 families a month are.

“We have to stop the flow,” she said. “At this moment there’s a national emergency – I could never have imagined how bad it would get.”

Sr Stan’s comments come following the release of new figures from the Department of the Environment showing that the number of people in emergency accommodation has risen by 76% since January. Currently 707 families, including 1,500 children, are homeless, as are 2,413 single adults. 

“The increase in homelessness is economically driven, with people being driven out of the private rental sector,” Merchant’s Quay Ireland’s CEO Tony Geoghegan explained to the The Irish Catholic, “but one of the effects of the growth in ‘new homeless’ has been that the more archetypal homeless people get sifted down to the bottom in terms of move-on and general access to any progression because they present more management problems.”

The consequences of that, Mr Geoghegan said, can be dire. “Always as we come into winter issues get exacerbated and more people sleeping rough,” he said, continuing, “a death on the streets outside the Dáil last year triggered government action and 271 extra beds etc., but last week there 153 people sleeping rough, and this at a time when there are extra beds and people at the night café which has up to 60 people a night”. 

Welcoming Dublin City Council’s proposal to provide modular housing to relieve the housing crisis, Bro. Kevin Crowley called on the Government to “act immediately by declaring a national emergency and to put forward whatever legislation is necessary to get the Modular Housing Project and other accommodation interventions up and running”.