Ministers accused of having 'no sense of urgency' in addressing housing crisis

Ministers accused of having 'no sense of urgency' in addressing housing crisis
Jan O'Sullivan

Homeless families with young children living in hotels are going to be thrown out on the streets this Christmas unless the Government finally brings in legislation that has been waiting on a shelf for more than a year.

Labour housing spokesperson Jan O'Sullivan also accused ministers of having "no sense of urgency" in addressing the housing crisis.

She was speaking after a Dublin city councillor said some homeless families should be charged up to €50 to stay in a hotel when seeking emergency accommodation.

Ms O'Sullivan said there is an attempt to "blame" homeless people for the crisis.

Highlighting a December 2017 Labour bill to make it mandatory to prioritise children's needs in homeless families, she said while the law change was accepted the bill enacting it has been lying on a shelf for more than a year.

"Families are under huge pressure this time of year, we have nearly 4,000 children homeless, over 10,000 people," said Ms O'Sullivan.

I was talking to a woman last week who told me she was in a hotel in Limerick with two school-going children, who have been told they have to get out of their hotel because the hotel is required for Christmas.

"While we passed a referendum on the rights of the child it simply hasn't been implemented when it comes to children who are homeless.

"This bill will oblige the local authority to ensure families with young children have somewhere to go [if they are evicted or asked to leave emergency accommodation]. At the moment, families are being sent to garda stations or are walking around streets, because there is no priority."

Ms O'Sullivan criticised Independent Dublin councillor Ruairi McGinley who told RTE's Today with Sean O'Rourke programme he wants to see some homeless families charged up to €50 for staying in hotels or B&Bs.

Labelling the comments as "entirely kite-flying" and designed to "stir up some animosity about people who are homeless", Ms O'Sullivan said: "If you are homeless in a hotel you haven't got anywhere to wash your clothes, you have to buy food you can't prepare for yourself, so there are extra costs imposed on those already at-risk families.

"I honestly think this [Mr McGinley's comments] is just an attempt to put some sort of blame on people who are homeless rather than ensuring something is done about it."

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