Homeless bodies welcome initiative

‘Crucial next step is for the whole of Government to back the Minister’s work’

Jan O’Sullivan: Initiative well received. Photograph: Eric Luke

Jan O’Sullivan: Initiative well received. Photograph: Eric Luke


Housing bodies and charities welcomed the implementation plan, but warned it would not stem increasing homelessness without a parallel increased availability of affordable housing.

Focus Ireland, the lead charity working with homeless families in Dublin, said increasing housing for the homeless was welcome, but added: “Without delivering more homes to help people move on, it will trap more families and people in homelessness with no route out.”

The charity’s director of advocacy, Mike Allen, said: “The success of the plan will be measured in the delivery of the homes required to tackle homelessness.”

The Simon Communities also welcomed it, stressing the need for whole Government backing, with actions as well as words.

National spokeswoman Niamh Randall said there was “no doubting” Minister of State Jan O’Sullivan’s commitment to the issue. “The crucial next step is for the whole of Government to back the Minister’s work.”

Echoing Mr Allen, she called for the social housing strategy, due out later this year, to now be fast-tracked “in light of the current high numbers of people in housing crisis”.

Bob Jordan, chief executive of Threshold, welcomed “any measure” to address the growing levels of homelessness. But he said the charity was disappointed the plan didn’t provide for an overhaul of the rent supplement scheme or the introduction of any form of rent control.

However speaking to The Irish Times last night, social justice campaigner Fr Peter McVerry said: “It is not going to work. First of all, they are seriously underestimating the number of homeless people. In the census of 2011, they had a category for homeless people for the first time and they identified 3,808 homeless people on that particular night. The numbers have certainly increased dramatically since 2011. I would estimate the number is in the region of 5,000 or more.

“I think the flaw in it is that it is an attempt to find a low cost solution to homelessness when there isn’t one. The second flaw is that we are in this mess because the Government withdrew from controlling local authority housing themselves and depended on the private sector to provide social housing. That failed and this relies very heavily on the private rental sector to soak up homelessness”.