Minister Alan Kelly can’t say how many people became homeless last year

Environment Minister Alan Kelly has failed to provide figures for the number of people who have become homeless in the past year.
Minister  Alan Kelly can’t say how many people became homeless last year

Publishing the 2015 Social Housing Report, he said 13,000 new social housing units were delivered last year. However, when questioned he could not provide the total number of people who have become homeless.

Although Mr Kelly was able to highlight the 2,000 people who exited homelessness last year he did not provide figures for the total numbers of families and individuals who became homeless in the same period.

“Obviously we know that there are people who are becoming homeless; the number of rough sleepers, however, is down,” he said.

“So I think hopefully we have addressed it and turned around the ship in relation to that. It is a very sensitive issue and takes up an awful lot of our time. Two thousand people have come through and have gone through the other side, it’s a figure that I think is important we get out there.”

After being prompted, Mr Kelly said 41 families became homeless in December while another 70 lost their home the previous month.

He said the number of people sleeping rough in Dublin dropped by 46% last year compared to 2014.

Mr Kelly has promised 500 modular homes in the coming year which is “the largest and quickest project on that scale ever delivered in the history of the State”.

Although 22 modular homes, costing €5m, were promised before Christmas, families have yet to move in to these prefabricated houses in Dublin’s Poppintree area. Mr Kelly said they would be ready in the coming weeks.

Dublin City Council has begun a tender procedure for the provision of an additional 131 modular homes. The Office of Government Procurement will begin tendering for the remaining 350 homes shortly.

This figure was yesterday questioned by Fianna Fáil, which claimed Mr Kelly was spinning the figures with regards to new social housing units.

The party’s environment spokesman, Barry Cowen, said: “He throws figures out and he has nothing to substantiate them with; 13,000 is wrong, it’s actually 11,000 and very few of them were built. Ten local authorities built no social housing for the past two and a half years. Is he proud of that?

“They are the questions you have to ask him because the electorate are asking them of us in relation to our role of seeking to hold them to account.”

Fianna Fáil leader Michéal Martin said: “Their policies have been wrong and misguided and they have contributed to and exacerbated the homeless crisis.”

Sinn Féin said Mr Kelly was rehashing old figures.

However, Mr Kelly said: “The only spoofers here are Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin, they must feel that they can miracle up houses. We started up the social housing strategy a year ago; we have delivered 13,000 houses, up from 7,000.”

He said 5,000 homes being built was a “sizeable amount”, adding that it is “impossible for any party to say that they could deliver units as quickly or quicker than what we are doing now”.

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