Govt 'should make it illegal for landlords to evict people into homelessness'

A couple needs to be earning at least €75,000 between them to have any chance of buying a house, according to homelessness campaigner Fr Peter McVerry.

Fr McVerry is criticising the Government’s housing strategy after research from the Jesuit Centre shows homelessness, rents and the cost of a house have all increased since the Government launched its 'Rebuilding Ireland' plan.

Fr McVerry says we have lost our sense of outrage when it comes to homelessness, while the housing market is in crisis.

The homelessness campaigner says not only a couple, but also a single person on their own, needs to be earning at least €75,000 to have any hope of affording a house.

He said: "Thirty years ago almost everybody in the country could aspire to owning their own house.

"Today, only about one in three people or households will be able to purchase a house."

The Government’s much-hyped housing plan 'Rebuilding Ireland' was launched 15 months ago, but the Jesuit Centre says since then homelessness has increased by 27% while house prices and rents have gone up 12%.

The centre says the Government relies too heavily on market-based solutions, and Dr PJ Drudy from Trinity College says the market is failing.

Dr Drudy said: "A one-bedroom apartment in Dun Laoghaire is €375,000, a two-bedroom is around €600,000.

"These are the sort of prices that new homes are being asked for nowadays. So the market doesn't work very well."

The Jesuit Centre wants the Government to come up with a more radical approach to housing, it says more social units are needed and boarded up properties need to be brought into use.

The centre’s Margaret Burns also says it should be illegal for landlords to evict anyone into homelessness.

She said: "Since most people are coming into homelessness through being evicted through the private rented sector, one way is to bring in a law that makes it impossible for a landlord to evict people into homelessness, as they have in other countries."

The Jesuit Centre says the Government needs to stop looking at housing as a commodity but as a basic human right.

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