Homeless problem at ‘crisis point,’ says Fr Peter McVerry
Government have their heads in the sand, says Fr McVerry
Fr Peter McVerry: ‘The problem is already at crisis point . . . In three months’ time, it’s going to be a tragedy.’ Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill
Ireland’s homeless problem is at “crisis point”, according to Fr Peter McVerry, the director of an organisation that
provides accommodation and care for homeless people.
Fr McVerry said he had not been surprised by two stories carried in The Irish Times in the past week about two sets of families: one of a mother with five children who has been living in a Dublin hotel room for the past three months; the other of a woman with three children who slept in her car for a week after a series of temporary housing arrangements broke down.
“I am meeting this every day,” he said. “I got a phone call from a lady a week ago saying she was sitting on a park bench with her three young children because she couldn’t get a place.
“Unfortunately these sort of stories are no revelation to me.”
He said the majority of people who become homeless today fall into one of three categories: People who can no longer afford to pay the rent; people whose relationships have broken down; those who were being made homeless because of the repossession of their home.
He said that he expected the situation to get worse in the coming months and years and that it would force even more people into the private rental market.
“There is a tsunami coming down the road and the Government have their heads in the sand,” he said.
Pointing to the Government’s commitment to provide a €500 million investment to provide fibre-powered broadband in more than 1,000 rural towns and villages, Fr McVerry said that, while it was not a case of pitting one against the other, that the same level of investment should be committed to dealing with the homeless problem.
“I just think the level of commitment to provide rural broadband should be equal to the level of commitment to providing accommodation to homeless people,” he said.
“The problem is already at crisis point . . . At the moment it’s a disaster. In three months’ time, it’s going to be a tragedy,” he added.