Tackling the scourge of homelessness
The Peter McVerry Trust, the national housing and homeless charity, has expressed its disappointment with the recently released record homeless figures but said it is determined to work to find solutions needed to bring the number back down.
Pat Doyle, CEO of Peter McVerry Trust said “The figures released by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage show 10,568 people in homelessness as of July 2022. This is obviously disappointing but it’s hugely important that we remain focused on finding the solutions needed to reverse the trend.”
The Peter McVerry Trust believes there are three key measures that need to be introduced as early as possible to help tackle the issue.
“As part of the cold weather strategy for this winter we need to take the step of re-introducing a moratorium on evictions,” urged Pat Doyle, who notes that there is a longstanding French model of banning evictions in autumn and winter. “This needs to be considered here in Ireland as it can help stem the flow of people into homelessness. It will also allow the thousands of social housing units under construction to come to fruition and allow some of these to be used to help people exit homelessness.”
The CEO also said there is a need for the immediate reintroduction of the national programme of long-term leasing until such times as the homeless numbers drop below 8,000. “Long Term Leasing is more secure and cost-effective than the Housing Assistance Payment support for people who have a long-term housing need, and is obviously much cheaper and better than paying for emergency accommodation,” he says, adding, “A targeted leasing programme for singles and larger families can be introduced immediately with a focus on re-using vacant residential and commercial properties thus not only providing new supply but regenerating urban centres too.”
The Peter McVerry Trust has also called on local authorities to increase the percentage of houses for the homeless when making allocations to new social housing stock schemes. It says there are too many schemes where the level of homeless allocations is low and by increasing it the numbers in emergency settings can be reduced.
Concluding Mr Doyle said, “We can’t afford to be downbeat or frustrated, there are too many people in need of solutions and that’s where our energy has to be focused.” Referencing the record high numbers of homeless people in 2019 he noted that subsequently a 20% reduction in the number was achieved. “We now need to repeat this and go further again by redoubling our efforts and introducing measures that will allow the numbers to fall.”