Ireland at risk of ‘entrenched homeless crisis’

FOCUS Ireland founder Sister Stanislaus Kennedy has warned of an “inter-generational entrenched homeless crisis” affecting thousands of people due to the Government’s failure to implement its own plan to end homelessness by the end of the year.

Marking the 25th anniversary of the homeless charity’s foundation, Sr Stan said although services had radically increased since the 1980s, more and more people were becoming homeless and were worse off than ever.

She said successive governments have failed to tackle homelessness, despite the Celtic Tiger years.

Figures from the Department of the Environment showed a total of 2,700 people homeless and 43,000 households on housing waiting lists in 1991. Current figures show this has ballooned to 5,000 homeless and a possible 100,000 on council waiting lists.

Under Pathway to Home, the Government had pledged to end long-term homelessness by the end of this year.

However, a spokesperson for the Homeless Agency, a statutory body responsible for implementing the Government’s policy, said the plan was at a “standstill” and confirmed that of 1,200 long-term units sought for people to move onto, virtually none had been secured.

The plan, which involves phasing out 1,000 emergency beds in hostels and bed and breakfasts throughout the greater Dublin area, is contingent on the procurement of properties through long-term leasing schemes run by the Department of the Environment.

But despite a strong commitment from the Housing Minster and much work by the department, no tenancies have materialised as private property owners are not coming forward to supply housing for the strategy.

Launching a hard-hitting public awareness campaign to tackle the crisis urgently, Sr Stan said people, including women and children, are assessed and ready to move on but instead are trapped in cramped and unsuitable emergency hostels and bed and breakfasts and are living in unacceptable conditions.

“We would be failing in our duty to the 5,000 people who are homeless today, and thousands at risk, if we did not warn the Government that a continued failure to provide housing for those in most need will lead to an entrenched homeless crisis,” she said.

“Children being reared in these conditions are being earmarked for future homelessness. This will be an inter-generational problem if something is not done. I have been saying this for years and still nothing happens.”


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