Tackling the homeless crisis

 

A chara, – The bright truth of what Peter McVerry says (Opinion, August 11th) is balanced by the dark reality of homelessness .

It is as if the five things our Government must do to help those most at risk in our society never match the list of the five things our government must do to get re-elected.

Actions are finite. Good intentions are infinite. – Is mise,

DERMOT O’ROURKE,

Lucan,

Co Dublin.

Sir, – When anyone suggests the option of compulsory purchase of empty buildings to relieve the housing crisis, we always hear the objection: “Oh but the owners have constitutional rights to their private property!” In fact, the limited property rights in our Constitution are severely circumscribed in article 43.2.1 and 43.2.2.

During the second World War emergency, the Army was given powers to requisition property and lands without negotiation.

Even in peace time the Land Commission had the right of compulsory purchase of landed estates for a pittance, whether the owners liked it or not.

Ironically, some of the descendants of the landless labourers who benefited from the land transfer are now erroneously citing constitutional extracts out of context in the hope of convincing people that private property is constitutionally sacrosanct. – Yours, etc,

DA HURLEY,

Frenchpark,

Co Roscommon.

Sir, – The latest CSO figures on homelessness should be a source of shame for our society (Front page, August 11th).

Two figures jump out, the fact that the majority of homeless people are in the 0-4 year-old bracket and that approximately 20 per cent of homeless people are employed but cannot afford accommodation.

It has been obvious for a while now that the housing market in this country, both rental and sales, is dysfunctional.

The policy of successive governments to increasingly depend on the market for solutions has manifested itself in rapidly increasing rents and house prices.

We are living in a economy that is measured on unsustainable growth and GDP, and ignores the lack of social dividend.

It seems that our Government is no longer the steward of society but the facilitator of profiteers. Recent comments by Government on a proposed lower tax rate for what are being referred to as “middle-income earners”, but are in fact lower than average earners, is also very telling.

It seems that our governing elite and their peers in the private sector are completely caught up in the perception that we have come out of the recession.

House prices are continuously compared favourably to those at the height of the boom as if that were an appropriate benchmark.

We have long ago surpassed the rental rates of that period and at the current pace it won’t be long before house prices do the same. Yet since the financial collapse we have seen a stagnation in wage increases for the majority of citizens.

It is no longer viable for citizens on the average industrial wage to live in Dublin metropolitan area and they are being forced to live further from their places of work.

It is time for a reboot of priorities and for this society to take a long hard look at what it wants for its people. We are deluded if we think that this recent “recovery” in its current manifestation is going to lead to a long-term prosperous and stable society. – Yours, etc,

BARRY WALSH,

Blackrock,

Cork.

Sir, – Fr Peter McVerry (Opinion, August 11th) quotes the Taoiseach as telling the Dáil that there were 90,000 people on the housing waiting list, but Fr McVerry stated that the number of people on the list is actually 210,000 – in 90,000 households.

I find it frustrating that there is disagreement about the basic statistics on such an important issue as homelessness.

If Peter McVerry is correct, then the Taoiseach is incorrect and needs to clarify his statement.

We should always be able to trust statistics given to us by government members and spokespeople.

Perhaps a policy should be introduced whereby government officials would always tell us the source of any quoted statistics so that we can check them easily? – Yours, etc,

MARY MORRISSEY,

Castletownbere,

Co Cork.