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Cian O'Callaghan TD

When it comes to housing, the Government is completely out of touch. The Government talks about ending homelessness by 2030, but they have no plan, no strategy and no milestones

Record levels of homelessness further prove that the Government’s housing plan has failed, according to the Social Democrats Housing Spokesperson Cian O’Callaghan.

“Figures released by the Department of Housing today show that there are now 10,568 people trapped in emergency accommodation, including 3,137 children. This is the highest number on record.

“This record shows the Government is far too close to those making huge profits from the housing crisis to take the necessary steps to fix it.

“Behind these grim statistics are lives that have been shattered by a broken system.

“Homelessness has increased by 30% in the past year – while child homelessness is up by 47% during the same period. These figures are proof that the Government’s plans are failing.

“Tánaiste Leo Varadkar had the audacity to say that the Government’s housing plan is working. This was a slap in the face to the over 10,000 people who are currently homeless.

“When it comes to housing, the Government is completely out of touch. The Government talks about ending homelessness by 2030, but they have no plan, no strategy, no milestones – and the numbers are going up, not down.

“The Government has ignored all the warnings that we were going to hit a record number of people without a home. They have failed to listen and failed to act. In December 2014, there were 2,858 people in emergency accommodation. In just eight years over 7,700 extra people are homeless.

“While these figures are shocking, they underestimate the full extent of the problem. Today’s figures do not include people sleeping on the street, in tents, on floors and in cars.

“They also do not include people staying in shelters fleeing domestic violence, people who have come through the asylum system but can’t move out of direct provision or people who are being turned away from emergency accommodation every day.

“There is a complete lack of urgency by the Government in their approach to housing. There are four things that the Government should do immediately to reverse this latest increase.

“They should:

1.     Extend the rent pressure zones nationwide.

“Outside of Rent Pressure Zones, rents are increasing by as much as 70%, putting people at risk of homelessness. A nationwide Rent Pressure Zone is needed to increase protections for renters.

2.     Revise the Housing Assistance Payment levels upwards.

“It is virtually impossible in major urban areas to find anywhere to rent for people in receipt of HAP.

3.     Tackle vacancy in the Rental Sector

“There were more than 35,000 empty rental homes on the night of the census. Many of these operate as short-term lets without planning permission or planning exemption.

“Bringing even a fraction of these back into use as rental homes would make a significant impact.

4. Strengthen the Residential Tenancies Board

“Core to solving the homelessness crisis is having a good supply of affordable rental accommodation. Landlords who are thinking of selling need to be encouraged to stay.

“One way to do this is to strengthen the Residential Tenancies Board. This would benefit both renters and landlords.

“It is hugely frustrating how ineffective the Residential Tenancies Board can be. This is one of the factors that is driving landlords to sell up.

“The Government is deluded if they think more of the same will solve the problem. They must start to do things differently.”

26 August, 2022


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