Thursday, 24 September 2015

Homeless Crises is now a National Emergency and a National Disgrace

Speaking in response to comments made by the President of Focus Ireland, Sr Stanislaus Kennedy; the Sinn Fein candidate for Wicklow/East Carlow in the upcoming general election Councillor John Brady has said it is time for government to accelerate plans to build social housing.

“The situation is spiralling out of control in front of our very eyes. The numbers of homeless or those imminently at risk including families and children has rocketed over the last three years. According to Focus Ireland the number of people registering for help has increased from 8,000 in 2012 to 11,500 last year. By June of this year they registered 8,000 people in trouble meaning by the end of 2015 the situation could possibly become unmanageable”

Councillor Brady went on to say that the issue of providing social housing units has been ignored by successive governments:
“ We had years of Fianna Fail governments during the Celtic Tiger squandering public money with not a penny invested in social housing, over the last four years we have had a Fine Gael Labour coalition enforcing an austerity agenda pushing more and more people onto the housing waiting lists and rendering many families homeless and helpless. Ironically, rather than invest in housing this government have instead preferred to spend millions of tax payer’s money housing people in unsuitable accommodation including expensive hotel rooms. As a result the situation has become a national emergency. According to Sir Stanislaus Speaking on RTE radio last week, Focus Ireland warned this government as far back as 2012 that the crisis was rapidly deepening, but it is clear the government paid little attention to the warning.”

Councillor Brady pointed out some harsh consequences as a result of government inaction:
“The numbers of people who are now affected by homelessness is not just a national emergency, it is a national disgrace. The numbers represent real people and we should be careful that we do not allow the statistics to render us unfeeling. Parents are distraught, children are suffering and an entire cohort of our population are crushed under the weight of despair and self-loathing. There needs to be an immediate freeze on rents and an increase in rent supplement if we are to stop the numbers rising further.”

Councillor Brady pointed out that back in 2014 Sinn Fein published a plan that would have kicked started a serious attempt to deal with the issue:
“At that time we asked for an immediate injection of one billion euro to be made available to address the issue. Instead the government in the subsequent budget decided to reduce the tax burden on the wealthiest by half a million Euro. Sinn Fein also believes that Local authorities should be given the tools whereby they can raise the finances necessary to provide adequate social housing in their respective areas. Moreover, the number of houses made available as social housing units by private developers should be increased. The government should immediately release funding as a matter of urgency, they managed to find a way to waste almost one Billion Euro on Irish Water but they cannot seem to find the cash to provide homes for its citizens. As Sr Stanislaus has pointed out ‘Government policies are causing people to be homeless’. It is way past time that government listened to appeals from organisations who have worked tirelessly for decades helping homeless people in this country such as Focus Ireland. Despite the upcoming election, it is not too late to start listening now.”

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