More aid for homeless people sought

 

The main Government parties must honour pre-election pledges to end homelessness within three years, an alliance of charities warned today.

MakeRoom - comprised of Focus Ireland, the Simon Community, St Vincent de Paul and Threshold - is worried at the lack of specific targets for housing and homelessness in the Programme for Government.

The alliance is seeking a meeting with Environment, Heritage and Local Government Minister John Gormley to clarify the position of Fianna Fail and the Green Party in this area.

All the main political parties fully endorsed MakeRoom's campaign end homelessness by 2010 prior to the general election.

Priorities include plugging gaps in emergency accommodation, providing more and better housing, slashing rents, tackling poverty and preventing homelessness.

"The new Government has a real opportunity to demonstrate its willingness to end homelessness and also make serious head-way on providing housing for the 48,000 households on social housing waiting lists," a MakeRoom spokesman said.

"The four organisations behind MakeRoom have seen targets on homelessness and social housing provision come and go without ever having been met. This cannot be allowed to happen again.

"Progress has been made in recent years and none of us can afford to drop the ball now. We all are convinced that with real political will and strong leadership the target to end homelessness by 2010 can really be achieved."

MakeRoom stressed there are many positive elements in the Programme for Government such as planned funding to implement the Governments "Vision for Change" strategy on mental health.

The alliance also gave cautious support for the planned expanded delivery of social and affordable housing options to meet the needs of 90,000 households.

It also welcomed the commitment to ensure that people on the Rental Accommodation Scheme are fast-tracked to more suitable housing.

However, MakeRoom stressed that greater focus must be placed on delivering homes for over 48,000 people on the national housing waiting list.