McVerry warns of ‘tsunami of homelessness’

Campaigner says that rising rents and housing shortages are ‘beyond a crisis’

Social justice campaigner Fr Peter McVerry has warned of a “tsunami of homelessness” as rising rents, housing shortages and home repossessions worsen over the coming months.  Photograph: Matt Kavanagh.

Social justice campaigner Fr Peter McVerry has warned of a “tsunami of homelessness” as rising rents, housing shortages and home repossessions worsen over the coming months. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh.

 

Social justice campaigner Fr Peter McVerry has warned of a “tsunami of homelessness” as rising rents, housing shortages and home repossessions worsen over the coming months.

He said the traditional routes out of homelessness - social housing and the private rented sector - were out of reach for many in need of support.

On top of this, the scale of buy-to-let mortgages in arrears meant thousands of additional people may also be forced to find accommodation in the near future.

“In all the years I have been working with homeless people; it has never been so bad. We are, even I would say, beyond crisis at this stage,” he told RTÉ’s Sunday with Miriam radio programme.

“There are six new people becoming homeless every day and that’s the official figures. It may be more than that”.

The output of social housing has fallen by 90 per cent over recent years, despite a near-doubling in the number on social housing waiting lists.

“There is a dearth of social housing. In the cities and in Dublin in particular, the private rental sector is out of reach for homeless people because the rents are escalating, they are going through the roof...

“The demand for rented accommodation far exceeds supply, and not only can homeless people not get into rented accommodation; but people already in rented accommodation are losing it. So, the people in rented accommodation are losing their accommodation and becoming homeless,” he said.

The fact that there were an estimated 40,000 buy-to-let mortgages in arrears means that a “torrent of water is coming, and there’s no way out”.

“Ultimately, because of the changing nature of homelessness, these are ordinary people who will vote, and their families will vote, I think this whole issue of housing and homelessness could bring this Government down,” he said.

“There is a dearth of social housing. In the cities and in Dublin in particular, the private rental sector is out of reach for homeless people because the rents are escalating, they are going through the roof”.

He called on the Government to immediately buy or rent out an additional 1,500 homes to prevent housing shortages spiralling out of control.