Having journeyed with people who are homeless or in need since 1969, I am appalled that despite being alerted to the increase in numbers of people accessing services such as the Capuchin Day Centre, the current housing crisis has been allowed to develop and that it took until two days before an election before it reached the agenda of the Oireachtas.
We became aware of the new situation regarding homeless families in early 2013 when parents asked for take away food for their children because they had no access to food or other facilities in the evening or night time. Every day here in the Capuchin Day Centre we meet with the tragic human casualties of failed government policies and those charged with ‘cherishing all the children of the state equally. While the Government’s new found realisation that we have in fact a homeless crisis has resulted in a promise of ‘urgent action,’ in our experience we have seen precious resources being frittered away on meaningless surveys and failed action plans.
Having survived over four decades of the social situations that foster and nurture homelessness with practically no help from the government, perhaps the state could learn from our ‘Strategic Plan’ — ‘Start with what is necessary and Do what is possible’.
START WITH WHAT IS NECESSARY: — We now have a three tiered homeless population competing for the same limited resources.
Rough Sleepers — The diversion of funds from emergency accommodation and the cessation of the Night Bus with its ring fenced accommodation means that we have more people at risk of dying on the side of the road than when we started the Centre in 1969.
New Poor who have been squeezed out of the Private Rented Market — If the current appalling situation is not addressed we will be paying the health and social consequences for generations. What is to become of children who are uprooted from their schools, friends and families.
Owner Occupied Households: Peter McVerry has predicted a ‘tsunami’ of possibly 35,000 homes being repossessed. Apart from the human and financial cost, the social consequences of such a situation is unimaginable.
I plead with the government to DO WHAT IS POSSIBLE. Please reinstate the night bus and emergency accommodation even to 2010 levels.
Reinstate the Rent Supplement or force Landlords to accommodate people adequately. I also ask the Minister to consider: Is the wellbeing of families and children of less importance than commercial interests? Recently an intervention by Senator Fergal Quinn led to legislative changes in Upward Only Rent Reviews for commercial property, surely someone in government could take up the gauntlet on behalf of Private Rental Tenants. Stop the Banks who owe the Irish People billions from repossessing homes.
In conclusion I would like to say that while there is a ‘tsunami’ of homelessness, from our experience here in the Capuchin Day Centre, there is an equal amount of very good people who do all in their power to help and show their concern for the wellbeing of their brothers and sisters who have fallen on hard times. Every day I thank God for the many people who have continued to help us over the years in spite of all the difficulties.
With every good wish and prayers for God’s special blessings on all who are experiencing homelessness.
Bro. Kevin Crowely ofm cap.
Capuchin Day Centre
29 Bow Street
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