The Government is considering bringing back previously shelved plans to encourage homeless people to leave Dublin and move to other parts of the country when the Cabinet returns next month.
Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy confirmed that the proposals will be part of new plans due to be discussed by ministers in the coming weeks, saying he believes a number of families would be “open to relocating” outside the capital.
Asked in a wide-ranging interview in Village magazine about the housing crisis, Mr Murphy defended his track record as housing minister at a time when the number of homeless people in Ireland has surged above 10,000.
And, citing a series of “sweeping reforms” that he wants to discuss with the rest of Government, Mr Murphy said among the proposals due for discussion is possible incentives or supports for people in emergency accommodation who want to move outside of Dublin.
“There will be families, and I know this because we have met them, who would be open to relocating outside of Dublin. And that can be supported,” Mr Murphy said.
The suggested policy switch is similar to a previous plan put forward during the Fine Gael-Labour government between 2011 and 2016.
The previous plan was suggested in 2015 before being shelved amid criticism. However, the surging homelessness levels in Dublin have led to a re-consideration of the proposal.
Meanwhile, in the same interview, Mr Murphy also said Cabinet will attempt to put in place new rules to ensure that families living in emergency accommodation are, where possible, able to stay in their general area.
Asked about the issue, Mr Murphy said: “First and foremost, if a family is in emergency accommodation in Dublin the best place for them to be, more than likely, is in the community when the kids are going to school.
“We will be discussing that at Cabinet in September.”
Mr Murphy also said he wants to change the current way social housing places are provided, risking controversy by saying people who reject housing offers should go to “the back of the queue”.
“Where someone refuses a social home in their area of choice, if they do that twice then they will go to the back of the queue to allow other people waiting a chance to move into a home,” he said.
Mr Murphy’s comments come at a time when the Housing Minister is continuing to face calls to be removed from his position due to surging adult and child homelessness levels, with more than 10,000 people now homeless in Ireland.
Meanwhile, a key developer linked to the Government’s deeply divisive co-living housing plans has caused a new wave of concern over the proposals by claiming anyone living in the properties would not receive the same rights as other tenants.
In a letter to Dublin City Council, Bartra Capital said that people who may live in their planned co-living units would be considered members of a club instead of tenants as they will share kitchen and living spaces — meaning they will not come under tenancy and rent control laws.
Fianna Fáil housing spokesman Darragh O’Brien told Newstalk the letter is “extremely concerning” and that the law must be changed immediately to ensure people living in co-living units are protected.