A place called home

 

Sir, – Today is World Homeless Day. It is a day used by organisations around the world, such as Peter McVerry Trust, to draw attention to the needs of people impacted by homelessness in our communities. This year we mark World Homeless Day in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has brought with it enormous change and served to remind us all of the invaluable service that is provided by State agencies, the public sector, and essential and frontline workers.

It has also left many reflecting on what type of country we should try to create, and whether this crisis can become a catalyst for improvements in childcare, education, health and housing and whether or not we can do more to become a fairer, more sustainable and community-centred society.

Unquestionably, the pandemic has strongly reinforced the significance of home for all of us.

Stay home, stay safe. Home, that fundamental space that can offer security, privacy and the ability to protect and isolate an individual or family in these incredibly challenging times.

Now, just days out from the publication of Budget 2021, it is understandable that an economic recovery will form the thrust of what is to be announced. Yet our economic recovery can, and indeed should, be socially and sustainably-minded and bring to the fore the needs of people and communities who are marginalised.

Our economic recovery must also acknowledge the importance of, and strengthen State investment in, our education, health and housing systems. As well as ensuring the work of public bodies, the community and voluntary sector and the role of State agencies continues to make our society fairer. Notwithstanding the economic challenges we face, what is actually needed is a more ambitious, enlarged social housing programme.

Our future housing programme should better reflect housing need, particularly one-bedroom homes which are required in much greater numbers if we are to successfully tackle homelessness and our social housing waiting lists.

On this World Homeless Day, as on others, the Peter McVerry Trust is focused on realising the solutions needed to enable those we support and engage to secure a home that is their right. – Yours, etc,

PAT DOYLE,

Chief Executive,

Peter McVerry Trust,

29 Mountjoy Square,

Dublin 1.