Letter to the Editor: Vote wisely to ensure homeless crisis tackled

Letter to the Editor: Vote wisely to ensure homeless crisis tackled

Within 2km of my house there are more than 100 vacant houses.

Only a few metres from my front door there is one vacant local authority house that has been vacant since April 2019.

Official figures released by Clare County Council show that on December 9, 2019, there were 79 adults and 55 children homeless in Co Clare.

In addition, there are 13 men living in Laurel Lodge.

These figures show an increase on those from 2018.

Clare Homeless Action Team (HAT) is made up of nine council staff who are on the frontline, supported by administrative staff.

In addition, there are two NGOs involved, which themselves have eight staff, and the HSE, which has two.

If these figures are accurate, this means a total of 19 full-time staff are dealing with homelessness on the frontline in Clare.

This figure does not include those who work in other elements of public housing in Clare County Council.

Why have we arrived at this situation in Ireland?

Where more than 10,000 people are homeless and thousands more on the housing waiting lists, where rents are exorbitant?

No local authority is building enough social or affordable housing.

A recent study by the Simon Community showed that 94% of all rented accommodation is out of the price range of those in receipt of HAP.

There was a time in the ‘50s the State build up to 55% of housing in Ireland.

This is among the factors that are seeing so many end up in hotels and bed and breakfast.

In 2019 the Government paid out €775m on HAP to private landlords, not including money spent on hotels and bed and breakfasts.

In a large number of cases, the tenant themselves had to top up the rent. Councilors are operating within national policy frameworks.

This does not prevent them from speaking out, demanding that they are given the resources and powers to sort out the housing situation in their county.

We need to see more action.

Rural Ireland is not dealing with anything like the same numbers of people affected by homelessness and housing insecurity as our major cities.

Accepting that a local authority with more than 900 staff does not have the capacity to solve Clare’s homelessness is defeatist and shows a lack of ambition.

Homelessness destroys lives, and in particular has long-term negative effects on children.

They deserve better from us.

Please use your vote wisely. It could make a difference.

Dermot Hayes

Ennis,

Co Clare

This readers' opinion was originally published in the letters page of the Irish Examiner print edition on 4 February 2020.

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