Myths around homeless prevent solutions, says Fr McVerry

Myths around homeless  prevent solutions, says Fr McVerry Fr Peter McVerry.

Fr Peter McVerry has decried the “myths around homelessness” which prevent the problem being resolved.

Writing for the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice, Fr McVerry said that myths such as drug-addiction and mental health issues causing homelessness “diverts attention” from structural issues.

“This myth is important because it diverts attention from the structural problems which cause homelessness – lack of social housing, weak tenant protections, low wage and precarious employment – to a ‘moral’ problem, focusing on the personal defects of homeless people,” Fr McVerry said. “The cause of most homelessness today is poverty, an inability to afford their own accommodation.”

Fr McVerry, founder of the homelessness charity the Peter McVerry Trust, said the rise in homelessness is down to “government housing policy failure over the past 20 or so years”.

“In 1975, this country built 8,500 council houses; in 1985, this country built 6,900 council houses; and in 2015, this country built 75 council houses,” Fr McVerry said.